I read two news articles today that are connected. The first was in the Guardian
According to a survey of 2,000 British children and parents conducted by Nielsen Book in June this year, 50% of family households now own at least one tablet, up from 24% a year ago.
On a weekly basis, 60% of children are reading books for pleasure, and if you factor in children who are being read to by parents, that percentage climbs to 72%.
Only three activities increased in percentage terms between 2012 and 2013: playing “game apps” (the term used by Nielsen Book), visiting YouTube and text messaging. “What we’re seeing is that non-readers have risen from 22% to 28% of all children,”
“It’s hugely impacting on teenagers: 11-17 year-olds are actually dropping their participation in quite a broad range of activities in order to play game apps,” said Henry.
The second article on the BBC News website:
A major study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows how England’s 16 to 24-year-olds are falling behind their Asian and European counterparts.
England is 22nd for literacy and 21st for numeracy out of 24 countries.
“This shocking report shows England has some of the least literate and numerate young adults in the developed world,” said Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.
Over the past decade I have seen reading groups in libraries and schools run with librarians and parents (dads & lads groups), groups run with teachers & librarians or librarians & parents (Chatterbooks) and general reading groups run by librarians or (in schools) teachers for young readers. I have never come across groups that incorporate parents/guardians, teachers & librarians. If anyone knows of such groups please let me know as I would love to find out how they got started.
It is disturbing that a developed, first-world country like Britain is so far down on international literacy & numeracy tables.
A suggestion is that teachers, librarians and the parents/ guardians of young readers join forces to ensure that children have decent access to reading materials and that they actually read them.
Placing teens in the middle of a triangle with parents, librarians and teachers along the borders making sure they have access to relevant materials and actually use them will be a step in rectifying this but it is only a beginning.
There is a strong link between literacy and employability in the UK: people with the lowest levels of literacy are the least likely to be employed while only 2% of families with good levels of literacy live in workless households.
Most of the (pre-teen) children I have seen in schools and libraries love reading and stories The Summer Reading Challenge bears this out with numbers of participants rising with every year. We need to keep young readers engaged as they reach their teens, this is why I think it is so important that a teenagers are made aware of initiatives that are currently running across the country as well as independent, grass-roots work being done in individual libraries & local authorities around the UK and locally.