Egmont Publishing‘s campaign calling for daily storytime to be made a statutory part of the school curriculum for key stages one and two, appears to be gaining momentum, and is being backed by authors such as Julie Ballard, Michael Morpurgo, Nicolette Jones, Chris Riddell, SF Said, the School Library Association, and many others.
It’s welcome news, and great to see British publishers actively involved in supporting children’s reading campaigns – with the Beano, published by DC Thomson Media, supporting World Book Day this week with a free book token offer.
Comics creators and other comic publishers should get involved.
Egmont’s campaign was started following a study that has revealed that children’s comprehension of reading suffers without it There’s also a crisis in children’s reading, with only 37 per cent of 6-11 year olds choosing to read for pleasure every day – and it’s declining every year.
Earlier this week, Munira Wilson, Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham put forward an Early Day Motion titled Reading for Pleasure, founded on the basis of study findings that by removing regular storytime among school children, reduces their progress by half the expected rate.
Support future readers and storytellers.
— Egmont UK (@EgmontUK) February 27, 2020
Egmont has been running its Statutory Storytime campaign for a while now, and has a petition running on Change.org, titled “Make daily storytime compulsory for all primary school children“.
Egmont points out research that shows that simply reading aloud to children, just for fun, is the most effective way to encourage them to read for pleasure themselves. For example, when 8-13 year olds are read to by their parents very infrequently (less than weekly), just 28 per cent of those children choose to read daily themselves. But when 8-13 year olds are read to by their parents every day, 74 per cent also choose to read for pleasure daily.
Being regularly read to is evidently very powerful but, in fact, only 14 per cent of 8-13s are read to by their parents every day,” Egmont argues.
“The Government knows reading for pleasure is important,” the publisher notes. “In fact, they say nothing is more important in education than ensuring every child can read well and that the best way to do this is to instil a passion for reading for pleasure.
“However, the curriculum focuses on the explicit teaching of reading skills and comprehension, with little time given to fostering a love of reading for pleasure. As a result, children often experience reading as work, not fun.”
Help us fight the current crisis in children’s reading. Download a letter to send to your MP, sign the government petition and join the #statutorystorytime conversation online. More info: https://t.co/kA06Oquldg #readingforpleasure pic.twitter.com/t6mBEANiMi
— Egmont UK (@EgmontUK) February 7, 2020
A recent study held at St Joseph’s Catholic Academy, a primary school in Goldenhill, Stoke on Trent discovered that regular reading and listening to stories for pleasure improves reading comprehension in children by double the expected rate.
Egmont found that 40 per cent of six to 11 year olds currently read for pleasure almost every day, while only 25 per cent of the same age group are read to at home.
Over the study’s five month period, it found that reading comprehension increased by an average of 10.2 months, double the normal expectation in the same time frame at schools outside of the study. It found that particular progress was made by year three, where children’s comprehension increased by an average of 16 months.
Children were motivated and inspired to read independently, for pleasure, more often and to try out different authors and widen their repertoire. As a result, Egmont saw a greater level of excitement around books, magazines, and reading, while storytime was found to give both students and teachers time to relax and a better sense of wellbeing.
Reading comprehension progress was re-examined five months after the project ended. Comprehension had slowed significantly, with progress dropping to 2.6 months on average over a five month period.
Egmont Publishing is now calling for the government to free up the curriculum, to make space and time for daily storytime and ring-fence it by making it statutory in the primary school curriculum.
“Regular storytime is powerful,” feels Alison David, Consumer Insight Director, Egmont Publishing and author of Help Your Child Love Reading. “Include it in the school day and reading comprehension increases rapidly. Take it away and progress in reading comprehension decreases.”
David continued: “We would not dream of allowing children to go through the school day with no lunch break – it should be the same for storytime. It might seem counter-intuitive, but the data from this study is clear: by uncoupling reading from lessons, by having storytime instead of teaching literacy, reading attainment naturally improves.”
Cally Poplak, managing director, Egmont publishing, added: “The funding challenges facing the education system are well documented, as are the challenges with children’s reading. Storytime is such an easy, low cost solution to these challenges, with immensely powerful results. It’s hard to see why it would not be made statutory.”
Michael Morpurgo, the bestselling children’s author has also thrown his own weight behind the project.
“It is vital that children, young people and all of us have access to stories which give us the knowledge, empathy and understanding we need to negotiate life,” he said. “But just as importantly, we need to give children and their teachers and parents time to read.”
• Join Egmont’s campaign to change the curriculum – find out more about the Egmont campaign, sign their petition, write to your MP and join the online conversation and tweet using #statutorystorytime and #readingforpleasure