Letter: Decline in Reading Standards

Share
Related Topics
Sir: If there is a decline in the reading standards of children of primary-school age ("Reading standards at low point", 27 January), the reasons are, to me, obvious - if politically distasteful.

I have taught English at almost every level from four to 18, and I am also the parent of highly literate offspring. I believe that while the influence of heredity must be acknowledged, a more potent influence was their unforced enjoyment of books from babyhood onwards.

That delight was fostered, and perhaps is only capable of being so, by the full-time presence of a non-employed parent (not always the same one), who would answer questions and follow up some of the interests ignited, throughout and beyond their pre-school years.

It just isn't the same experience, being read to in a group, even in the best nursery or first school. Being read to on a lap, from which you can see the print and the pictures, is quite different: mother's-milk reading.

Since the Seventies, when living on one wage seemed a reasonable choice, the ever-growing accessibility of television and of video games has given tired (but comparatively affluent) parents an easy alternative to books that many haven't been able to refuse.

If reading has to be taught by a teacher - an uphill job without the indispensable pre-reading enjoyment, as I can testify from experience - that's already remedial.

After expressing such heretical views I must try to offer a solution. My Utopia will feature universal job-sharing - well-paid, half-time jobs for all - and will spend significant government revenue on promoting awareness of the delight babies derive from books. Books themselves, theatres, concerts and libraries will be subsidised to the hilt; so will public transport.

As to the funding of these proposals, that will be obtained by sparing children the toils of formal education until age seven. I venture to suggest that in these happy circumstances juvenile crime rates, as well as reading ages, will reverse their present trends.

A J CLAYBOURNE

Keighley,

West Yorkshire

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Membership Manager

£35 - 38k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager ...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...

Recruitment Genius: Payroll & HR Administrator

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity to join a d...

Recruitment Genius: Cost Engineer / Technical Estimator

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The UCAS clearing house call centre in Cheltenham, England  

Ucas should share its data on students from poor backgrounds so we can get a clearer picture of social mobility

Conor Ryan
A study of 16 young women performing light office work showed that they were at risk of being over-chilled by air conditioning in summer  

It's not just air conditioning that's guilty of camouflage sexism

Mollie Goodfellow
Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks