Working in publishing, I obviously like books more than your average mum. Working with children, and having a 1 year old myself, I am also obviously more invested in kids and their needs than the average publisher. Loving to read myself, I am eager to instill a love of books and reading in my son. His first gift was a ‘bumper book’ to go around his moses basket or his pram, and since then he now has a plethora of board books, buggy books, sensory books, lift the flap books, story books, cloth books, musical books and picture books.
So how can it be that 1/3 of UK children do not own any books at all?
The issue of literacy in Britian has finally arrived in the papers and on our screens, with shocking statistics such as the one above, and horribly amusing stories becoming front page news. Last year, the boy who got in trouble on ‘bring a book to school day’ was famously reprimanded because he brought the wrong kind of book. He announced that it was the only book they had in his house. The title? The Argos Catalogue.
I find it quite difficult to understand why there is such a problem with young kids and books. We are not talking about how many children eat their vegetables, or go to school without kicking up a fuss. The fact of the matter is, kids love them! They love being read to, they love looking at their own books, and they love being interactive with flaps and sensory pages, and most kids even enjoy learning to read. Once you’ve got to that age, surely the hard part is over. The kids are either used to being around books and reading, or not. Difference in personality means that obviously for some children this instills them with a love for reading, while for some it may still be a chore, but the groundwork is laid. On top of this, even if your children find reading itself hard, they would still enjoy being read to.
All I can surmise therefore, is that the literacy issues in this country are to do with parents. Whether reading is simply not important to them personally, or they struggle to read out loud accurately and confidently, or it’s just never crossed their minds, parents aren’t reading enough with their children.
For those who think reading isnt that important, I’ll summarise all the studies I’ve read right here in one easy paragraph. Reading with your child for ten minutes a day, starting earlier than the age of 2, has been proven to improve memory skills, language development and comprehension, speech patterns, listening abilities and creative and imaginatory play. Starting from a young age also gives your baby comfort, stimulation, and a better bond with you, and a bedtime story has even been shown to provide better general sleeping patterns and through the night sleeping at an earlier age.
If you’re embarassed, practice makes perfect. Your baby doesnt care if you’re the most confident reader. If you don’t have any books, or don’t know which ones to get, your local library can help with loads of great titles for each age group. If your child doesnt seem interested, persevere, and get excited about it yourself! What your kid wants most is the attention and interaction coming from you. Dont worry if they crawl or run away, their patience and listening skills will improve with time.
It’s a great time of year to make some new years resolutions, and if one of them is to spend more time with your kids, pick up a book, and thank me later.