What a fantastic energy the new Children's Laureate is bringing to the fight to promote reading, stories, creativity and literacy. Cressida Cowell, the author of 'How to Train Your Dragon', refers to her passion as a 'quest' which is perhaps exactly what is needed for this challenge - a bit of imagination and a whole lot of perseverance, in addition to pragmatic plans that will work. This second part she covers off in her 'To Do' list, which addresses all the things she says every child deserves, including 'to own their own book, and to be read aloud to'.
We know that resourcing is not the only answer. The challenge is a complex one - but an important one. Those children with poor reading skills at age 5 are then 6 times less likely to read at the expected standard by age 11. This disadvantage bleeds into GCSEs and beyond...
There's some really good stuff out there about how to improve communication and language in the early years, but it does focus on parental engagement and that is also key to improving the picture. Parents need to buy into this and realise, hopefully that while inspiring their child's imagination and learning, probably, they too will feel more inspired. Being a parent to young children is often tough. Here are some ways of lightening the mood and learning at the same time!
At OCF we also hope to bring together a practical plan with some real imagination, providing physical resources as well as general support to communities and families with the Home Learning Environment. Keep up to date with our progress through our website and social media!
Cowell told the audience at Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London that she had “two super-simple key messages” as laureate: “Point number one: books and reading are magic. Point number two: this magic must be made urgently available to absolutely everyone. “The telly is glorious, bookshops are closing, libraries are closing, librarians are disappearing, review space is shrinking, parents are knackered, the kids are on the Nintendo Switch ... Everywhere you look, it’s impossible and getting more impossible by the minute,” she said. “My favourite kind of problem. Luckily, anyone who has read my books will know that I love a quest. A quest is idealistic: there are impossible-seeming obstacles and many people will tell you not to bother trying. A quest is also practical – in order to make progress there must be action.”