Anyone who has ever been involved in education of any kind will be aware of the powerful effect reading can have on educational progress in general. I have taught and led schools for over 25 years now and have directly taught classes from Reception to GCSE English. My experience has confirmed time and again how crucial a love of reading and a wide experience of books is to confidence and engagement with learning. If reading is difficult for an individual child or young person, it becomes a barrier to learning and can cause behavioural as well as educational issues. It is clear that an early exposure to stories and vocabulary is key, but it is also clear that it is never too late to re-engage with reading if you have consistent support and encouragement. The role of parents and family are key in this, as children only spend approximately 15% of their time in school and therefore need to be reading or being read to at other times for skills and vocabulary to be embedded. As a parent, I have always found that talking about stories and words is almost as important as stories and words themselves. The same is true as a teacher and I remember a powerful conversation about the word ‘protege’ with a group of GCSE English students which ranged from Jekyll and Hyde to The Only Way is Essex and back again. The students learnt a new word and I learnt something about TOWIE! So I suppose the main thing I would say is read, keep reading and keep talking about reading. Get involved in the Year of Reading activities that will be going on across Leeds from September 2019 (@LeedsYOR) and try to spread that love of reading.

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