By Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust
Today marks International Literacy Day, a UNESCO-designated awareness moment that champions the importance of literacy as a basic right. It also offers a great chance to take stock of the current state of literacy in the UK.
This is the second International Literacy Day since COVID-19. This time last year we were seeing publication of the first worrying data describing the pandemic’s impact on education. Unfortunately these early predictions of an increased attainment gap between children from low-income backgrounds and their high-income peers are now being realised. In the first lockdown alone, a decade’s work to narrow the attainment gap was undone. .
To make sense of the scale of this challenge, The National Literacy Trust has now launched a research ‘observatory’ to bring together the emerging evidence of the pandemic’s impact on literacy.
Much of the research we are drawing together shows that children who had good access to digital devices, books and paper, and confident parents experienced less of a negative effect on their learning during school closures. Lockdown disproportionately impacted on the literacy of children from low-income homes. Without immediate action this risks exacerbating societal inequality for generations.
One small change right now can lessen this impact and transform a disadvantaged child’s future. Simple access and ownership of books can transform a child’s enjoyment of reading, help them see themselves as a reader and supporting the development of vital literacy skills.
Unfortunately, we know that 380,000 children and young people don’t own a single book. This is why our partnership with AwesomeBooks is so significant – every time someone buys a book on this website AwesomeBooks will gift us a book to be distributed to children and schools who need them the most.
The importance of owning a book can’t be overstated. It is a gateway to reading and for many children establishes their entitlement to literacy, giving them the skills to succeed at school, access that crucial first job and ultimately support their own child’s learning.
What’s more, our research shows that reading doesn’t just support literacy and learning, it also boosts wellbeing and enables every child to dream about the future. Many of us needed that extra support and shot of optimism during the pandemic.
We’d like to thank AwesomeBooks for their support and partnership with the National Literacy Trust. COVID-19 severely disrupted the literacy and learning of so many – but collaborations between the private, public and charity sectors have the power to really support the youngest generation as they try and recover from the shock waves of the pandemic.
All AwesomeBooks customers can donate to us today and contribute to our ongoing work with schools, children, and families in the UK’s most socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.
So, thank you AwesomeBooks, and happy International Literacy Day!
To browse millions of new and used books visit www.awesomebooks.com. For every book you buy AwesomeBooks will donate a book to a child in need. Make an impact with every book and find out more about the Awesome Book for Book here.