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Literacy encounters technical difficulties

I agree wholeheartedly with Deborah Took (Letters, 30 March) that "this reading stuff is pretty important". Children are born with an innate predisposition to learn through play. By that I mean first-hand, three-dimensional, multi-sensory exploration of the real world, with real people. Given these experiences (and the sharing of time-honoured interactions such as song, rhyme and stories), by the age of 6 or 7 almost every child should have acquired the foundations upon which literacy skills depend.

High-tech modern lifestyles mean many children have few opportunities for this sort of play. It's increasingly urgent that we reassess attitudes to pre-school care and early education, taking account of where children are coming from and where contemporary culture is leading them. Otherwise, a growing number of children will soon fail to get beyond a reading age of 8 or 9.

Sue Palmer, Literacy specialist and author of Toxic Childhood.

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