When this blog started Josie was not even a twinkle in my eye but even then, right back at the beginning in May 2003, books and reading were the building blocks of our home education journey. My confidence in a book-rich education led to my self belief in educating my children at home. They’ve grown up in a house filled with books and come to the worlds that open from those pages in their own time. They may be children of the internet but each of them knows the joy of getting lost inside a story, each of them has welcomed reading in their own time and delighted in books.
And back then, when I was feeling my way through home ed, it was hard to imagine that blogging might one day lead to a day like we had last Tuesday, when Josie was given the day off school to visit the House of Lords with Save the Children and their Born to Read Campaign. And she became something of a poster girl too because when a room full of the adult tummies at eye height got too much for her, this was what she did.
Save the Children are working with Beanstalk to end the link between low literacy and poverty, helping public and private sectors work together so that all children can read competently by the age of 11. It is so hard, though not impossible, to achieve without reading skills. My own experience of gritting my teeth while my late readers became ‘book ready’ tells me all I need to know about this. While we waited for them to learn (mostly at age 8) we had to find very different ways to access education and information. For them that was fine because we had time and space to do that, but it was a markedly different experience for Amelie, who read competently at 6 and was far more autonomous for it. And Josie, who started school at 8 without strong reading skills, found even the short period of time before the cogs finally slotted into their places very challenging. Adulthood without literacy is not something I want to imagine from a practical point of view, never mind the loss of stories.
We listened to Lauren Child speak passionately about observing children and their relationship with books around the world and how cultures influence the love (or lack of love) of books.
The CEO of Beanstalk spoke about volunteers who go into schools after receiving training, signing up to a year of working with children to build their confidence with books. And the room was filled with parents and children from schools where the scheme has worked.
It was an amazing setting and getting a tour around the Houses of Parliament was the icing on the cake. Talking to Josie about the history of the pictures and statues really brought home to me how fortunate I am to be able to read historical fact and fiction and pass it on to my girls in this casual, relaxed way. Things I just know… because I can read. Things they will grow up know because I could read and tell them and then they could find books to take that learning forward.
Everyone should be able to read the bottom of a statue, know a little or have the tools to find out more. And we’ve come so far in this country, through centuries where reading was the property of the privileged, that we owe it to our future to make sure that does not happen again.
If you would like to know more about #ChangeTheStory, follow the link to find out more about the Born to Read Campaign and sign up to be a change maker.You can become a reading volunteer with Beanstalk.