Hope for children's reading and libraries
The UK government chose World Book Day on 5 March 2015 to fund a new programme to the tune of £100,000 that will go some way to raising literacy in primary schools.
I think most people are becoming aware that the standard of literacy in secondary schools (and not just from the children) has deteriorated and that school leavers applying for jobs leave a great deal to be desired in the literacy stakes. This can, of course, prevent them from being accepted by companies and organisations whose window to their publics reflects on their reputation and public image. We've all spotted those spelling and punctuation mistakes in adverts and whoever employs the subtitlers on TV should most certainly have gone to Specsavers before doing so.
Literacy skills need to be learned at primary level though and if children haven't learned the difference between 'should have' and 'should of' by then, it's probably too late by the time they reach secondary school.
School Reform Minister, Nick Gibb expressed the need for 'exposure of pupils to great literature and to instil the habit of regular reading.' And by that I assume he isn't talking about surfing the internet. Mooted are book clubs and promoting library membership in primary schools. Poetry recitation is to be introduced at an early age. But tough for Bookstart Northern Ireland whose funding will be completely cut. Brooktrust, who runs that scheme in conjunction with Bookstart, are looking for alternative funding so that they can continue.
The Society of Authors welcomes the Government's proposed measures but is concerned about the state of local libraries, so many of which have suffered cutbacks and closures. Libraries are obviously going to be the main access to literature for youngsters, so encouraging them to arrange library membership isn't going to be as easy as it sounds.
The Society believes all schools should have their own libraries and are lobbying 'to make them statutory in all state-funded schools, with sufficient books available for all children and a nominated library specialist among staff.'
Chief Executive Nicola Solomon commented, 'We welcome the government's aims to increase access to reading materials and hope they will both deliver and go further. Requiring that every school has a well-maintained, curated library service would ensure that every child in Britain, wherever they live and whatever their background, has access to a full range of reading materials, in both digital and physical forms.'