Reading between the lines

16th August 2013 at 01:00

I was intrigued to read about reading schemes in TES (By the numbers, 9 August), because I have helped to deliver the Summer Reading Challenge as a volunteer at my local library for the past four years. My experience is in accordance with the statistics.

Typically, hordes of children with parents in tow queue up to join, yet it is extremely rare for more than half of these to pass beyond the starting point, let alone the finish line. With most children showing enthusiasm for reading and even more so for achieving their stickers and other rewards, I used to question why the completion rate was so low.

Since starting a degree and undertaking work experience in education settings, I have noticed how regularly low parental aspirations seem to be scapegoated as the reason for children's low rates of achievement. However, does this situation really have such a complex cause? Realistically, young children cannot take themselves to the library and they often need support to read and understand their storybook. With many parents not realising the impact that maintaining reading over the summer break has on performance in literacy come September, and many more not having the time to read with their child let alone make six trips to the library, is it really a surprise that the completion rate is so low? I think not.

Katie Alexander, Undergraduate student at the University of East Anglia.

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