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Improving Primary School Literacy

Primary School Literacy: More books in schools will transform children's reading lives. Picture is of teacher reading to child.

Primary School Literacy is crucial, and to have good primary school literacy you need books in schools.

The good old days?

I don’t know about you but when I was at school in the eighties, in every school I was in, we had a librarian and a well-stocked library. We got to choose our reading books and there were always plenty to choose from. That library culture was embedded in our education. We borrowed books and had every opportunity to develop a love of reading.

I mean I would have moved to America to be a cheerleader at the drop of the hat because of the diet of American teen novels I got through. It would have been a terrible disappointment. I could barely do a forward roll.

But books were very much part of every child’s life, and lots of us took it for granted.

My early memories of books are reading everything in the book corner. We started with books like Ben and Sam and then read about Three Pirates. We then moved onto Ladybird Read it Yourself books.

And as I read, I gained more and more freedom and control over what I could read. There were books available to me, so I could make those choices.

What helps us fall in love with reading?

I was conditioned to like reading – surrounded by books I enjoyed. By being given a choice of what I wanted to read, I was provided with books that stretched my ability. I read books where I could imagine being in the story. Books that taught me that anything is possible and as a result I developed a belief that no book was too hard.

Know your privilege

I caveat all this with a strong knowledge of my privilege.  I know there are a myriad of privileges that made that easier, including, my race, my upbringing, parents who loved books, time and space and opportunity to read, an ease and confidence when it comes to words.

The truth is, people with my privileges will probably still do well at reading. But, in spite of the system, not because of it.

But what is really sad is primary school literacy is crucial for all. And with the best will in the world it isn’t supporting all. Every year there are thousands of kids, unnurtured readers, missing out on all the advantages that falling in love with books brings.

This exacerbates inequalities.

We can change things…

But with the right amount of money, we could fix it.

1 in 8 Primary School don’t have library space, that statistic gets worse the more disadvantaged an area is.

And there is currently no central plan in place to put this right.

Life-changing Libraries

Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell launched her Life-changing Libraries campaign earlier this year. This is a campaign to ask the government for a yearly pot of £100m spend on primary school literacy. She is working with 6 schools to show how well-stocked, well-equipped libraries change outcomes for children.

I’m sad she has to prove it in this way. Because research already tells us this.

But she will prove it and then we’ll wait on the government response. In the meantime, thousands of children are missing out on all the advantages that reading brings with it.

What can we do?

Can you help? Help us by buying a Book Boost for a local primary school. Or by becoming a fully fledged business member and donating 100 books to a school.

We can all be part of the solution in so many different way. It might not be the solution we want or one that lines up with our political beliefs but it is a solution that helps more children to become readers. And that’s what we desperately need!