Michael Morpurgo unites every Children’s Laureate from the past 25 years in one open letter to the UK government. They are calling for a long-term investment in early years reading.
All 12 Children’s Laureates are asking the government to support the educational needs of young children living in the UK. The belief is that a national investment in books and reading is much-needed and long overdue.
This particular plea is on behalf of children under seven. This is an age-range where books and reading play an integral role in the development of strong, foundational language skills. Research also shows that access to good books also helps create good relationships with parents and peers.
Due to the cost of living crisis that’s impoverishing UK families, young children are missing out on key reading materials. This issue goes hand in hand with a serious deficit in public school resource. A situation the group believes will hinder young minds.
The letter states: “According to a BookTrust survey, although 95% of parents with children under seven know that reading is important, only 42% of children of that age have a bedtime story. Further, only half of children aged one to two from low-income families are read to daily. It can come as little surprise that the number of children starting school needing speech and language support has risen by a fifth since 2017.”
It’s clear that reading in low-income families is declining. This is due to a lack of accessibility and affordability.
Michael Morpurgo, who is now the president of BookTrust, leads the conversation. In his open letter he writes, “It is not right that children from poorer backgrounds are deprived of a life that is rich in reading.”
Current Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho, and many others have signed the letter in support. The list of signatures: Malorie Blackman, Sir Quentin Blake, Anthony Browne, Lauren Child, Cressida Cowell, Julia Donaldson, Anne Fine, Chris Riddell, Michael Rosen, and Dame Jacqueline Wilson.
The Reading Together Campaign
This letter is expertly timed with the launch of BookTrust’s Reading Together campaign. Here, the charity has outlined exactly what must be done to help affected families.
Michael Morpurgo says, “Reading Together will aim to ensure that millions more of our children have the sure start they need to discover early the enjoyment of reading, and so have the opportunity to hear and read stories and poems, that is their right.”
BookTrust has outlined four proposals to prompt a national debate.
The four proposals:
- Embedding reading in the life of every low-income family
- Using shared reading to bring enjoyment and stability to vulnerable children
- Helping antenatal and early years practitioners promote shared family reading
- Supporting primary school teachers to cultivate a love of reading.
These proposals explore the nation can establish a comprehensive programme for under-7’s reading.