The Importance of Literary Skills in Youth and Beyond
It’s the end of the academic year and in celebration of the long summer break and the completion of end-of-term exams, Panoramic Care explored the critical importance of literacy skills in aiding the breakage of poverty cycles and creating strong, healthy societies.
Reading is a fundamental skill that is essential for success in life. Unfortunately, more than a quarter of a million schoolchildren are experiencing literary poverty, according to a report by BookTrust[i]. Literary poverty, by definition, is a child who is read with or to for pleasure for less than 15 minutes a week outside of school. Limited access to books and supported reading time can lead to a strong decline in literacy skills and by association, emotional health. Here, Panoramic Care will discuss the importance of reading for both children and adults and the hidden implications of literary poverty on our society.
Reading is essential for the development of language skills and cognitive function. For children, early childhood education is critical, as it sets the foundation for their academic success. Reading to children at an early age can improve their vocabulary and help to develop their critical thinking skills which results in higher levels of academic success and increased levels of self-esteem and confidence. A study by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) found that
“Children who read books often at age 10, and more than once a week at age 16, gain higher results in maths, vocabulary, and spelling tests at age 16 than those who read less regularly.[ii]”
Children who do not enjoy reading are at risk of learning poverty, which means they are unable to read and understand a simple text by age 10. Sadly, literary poverty is a significant problem among UK schools, and it can have a severe impact on the future success of children. A remarkable study by Touchstone Research has proven that –
“Reading for pleasure is the single most important indicator of a child’s future success, and it is more important than their family background”
Despite the vast and fundamental importance of reading for children just 53% of children said they enjoyed reading ‘very much’ or ‘quite a lot’ – the lowest level since 2013. Poet and former children’s Laureate Michael Rosen specified that “We have countless examples of research showing that children who read for pleasure widely and often are best able to benefit from what education offers…[Improving reading levels] needs full government backing, with as much money and effort as they put into compulsory phonics teaching, to support schools and communities in this.”
There are several solutions to address literary poverty. Policymakers should aim to invest more in early childhood education and provide access to books for children from less-advantaged backgrounds. By increasing funding for schools and libraries and providing incentives for families to read with their children, rates of literary poverty should begin to decrease. Educators can promote reading in schools by organising book clubs, reading competitions, and author visits. They should also provide access to a wide range of books, including those that reflect the diversity of the community. Individuals can pledge to make a difference by reading to their children or children whom they know well, donating books to schools and libraries, promoting reading in their communities, or volunteering: read on to find Panoramic Care’s suggested list of resources!
Panoramic Care takes great care in providing support for all types of schools and assists to deliver highly skilled leaders on both an interim and permanent basis. Being part of such a wide community, we believe in cooperating closely alongside the schools which we work with.
Here are some of our top resources to help combat literary poverty:
- Love Reading – An online bookstore with a purpose. By buying from their selected titles, you can choose to donate 10% or 25% of the title price to give to schools in need.
- The Reading Agency – A company that campaigns to raise reading awareness in schools and for adults.
- Book Trust – Book Trust transforms lives by getting children and families reading. Each year they reach millions of children across the UK with books, resources, and support.
- Bookmark Reading – A platform that organises volunteering sessions to help young children develop their reading skills.
For adults, reading provides lifelong learning opportunities that can improve cognitive function and increase knowledge and understanding of the world. It can also enhance communication skills, increase levels of empathy, expand vocabulary, and improve mental health by reducing stress and anxiety. Studies have shown that reading for pleasure can promote better health and well-being and improve sleeping patterns. Reading has also been proven to slow down mental disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia, as it stimulates the brain and keeps it active, by retaining its power and capacity.
“Adults who read for just 30 minutes a week are 20% more likely to report greater life satisfaction.”
Research conducted on a group of volunteers in 2009 at Mindlab International has shown that reading was the most effective way to overcome stress. Psychologists believe this is because the human mind must concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart. During testing, reading reduced stress levels by 68%, beating listening to music, having a cup of tea, and taking a walk. The subjects tested had their stress levels and heart rates increased through a variety of tests and exercises before being asked to perform a number of traditional relaxation methods. Subjects only had to read for six minutes for their heart rate and muscles to relax.
Therefore, reading is a fundamental skill that is essential for success in life. However, literary poverty is a significant problem that can have a severe impact on the future success of children. It is essential that policymakers, educators, and individuals work together to address this issue by investing in early childhood education, promoting reading in schools, and providing access to books for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. By doing so, we can create a world where everyone is reading their way to a better life.
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[i]More than a quarter of a million school children experiencing literary poverty, 05 February 2020, https://www.booktrust.org.uk/news-and-features/news/news-2020/more-than-a-quarter-of-a-million-school-children-experiencing-literary-poverty
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