Coalition launches to tackle poor literacy among children
A coalition has launched a campaign to tackle poor literacy and its impact on the life chances of children living in poverty.
Across Scotland one in five children from poorer families leaves primary school unable to read well, a level four times as high as that of pupils from better off households, says the group.
Read On. Get On’s members include Save the Children, Scottish Book Trust, Scottish Business in the Community, Scottish Library and Information Council, and Volunteer Scotland.
The campaign will support parents and teachers to get all 11 year olds reading well in a generation, meaning they can read, understand and discuss stories such as Harry Potter.
A report by Read On. Get On. shows that one in 10 children leave primary school not reading well but this figure doubles for children from the most deprived backgrounds.
The report also shows a gap between boys’ and girls’ attitudes with 73% of girls saying they enjoy reading compared to 52% of boys.
We cannot continue with a situation where one in five poor children are not reading well - Neil Mathers
And while books remain popular, the most commonly read material by children is now text messages, with websites and e-books also growing in popularity.
Neil Mathers of Save the Children said: “As a country we cannot continue with a situation where one in five poor children are not reading well at the end of primary school.
“It is unfair. We know that getting every child reading well at 11 cannot happen overnight but it is possible within a generation if we work together.
“Read On. Get On. is a mission to galvanise the nation so that parents, grandparents and volunteers play their part in teaching children to read.
“We want every child to be given a fair and equal chance to learn to read well, regardless of their background.”
Reading well is a skill that unlocks other opportunities at school and in life and is essential for tackling the effects of poverty on children said the coalition.
In Scotland 220,000 children are growing up in poverty and this figure is expected to get worse: last year the number of children living in poverty increased by 30,000 and this rise is set to continue with a predicted one in three children trapped in a life of depravation by 2020.
Marc Lambert, director of Scottish Book Trust, said: “Without first enjoying a strong child-parent bond, and so developing good early language skills, children will struggle to read well, enjoy books, and benefit from all the other opportunities reading enables, not least as the foundation for a good education.”