I am very aware that World Book Day is bit like Marmite. Some people love it and some people hate it and, as a parent, as well as a Head, I appreciate that getting a costume together for World Book Day has become yet another annual challenge that we could probably all do without (as if parenting wasn’t already hard enough I hear you cry…). However, I do love World Book Day. Not just because I enjoy dressing up, but because I actually love books and I love reading. Being a teacher is such an enormous privilege and being able to share one’s own passions and interests with young children is quite simply one of the best things in the world. I see it every day here at Moyles Court, but this Thursday was very special indeed. Our teachers all shared their love of reading and their favourite books with our pupils and the pupils responded, not just with great costumes, but with enthusiasm and excitement for the books being discussed.
Sadly, for many young people today, books seem to have a negative image and are viewed as nothing more than tools required for school and exams – the notion of reading for simple pleasure is slowly extinguishing. This week, a survey of children and young people carried out by the National Literacy Trust, found only 52% of eight to 18-year-olds read for pleasure. And just a quarter of those will read daily, dropping 17% from 2015 figures. It is a fact made worse by findings of Nielsen Book Research’s annual survey on British children’s reading habits, which found that as few as 32% of children under 13 are read to daily by an adult, for no other reason than the pure fun of it – this is down from 41% in 2012, with most parents stopping reading to their child by the age of eight (Lola Okolosie in the Guardian).
For me, reading is a fabulous escape; one that takes you to new places and introduces you to new people and ideas. I started my assembly on Monday by talking to the pupils about a friend of mine. I was able to share with them what this friend looked like, what he was like as a person, where he lived, who his friends were and shared with them some of the fabulous adventures we got up to together. It just so happened that this friend of mine was called Asterix and I got to know him in a book.
My thanks to all of you for supporting World Book Day so positively and for finding the time to encourage your children to read to you and for you to read to them. For a child, is there anything more comforting than curling up under a blanket and listening to the soothing sounds of a story being read to you by your parents or grandparents?
Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and I hope it involves a book somewhere along the way!