Reading is the key to a child’s future: it unlocks their potential and opens up a world filled with possibilities.
A confident reader has the opportunity to make the most of their education, get good exam results and do better in the workplace.
Of course, a good education is about much more than just reading. But being able to read well is the key. So much else depends on it.
And crucially, for our poorest children, reading can be essential as a route out of poverty.
Children left behind
But every year, around 130,000 children in the UK – including 40% of children from poorer backgrounds – leave primary school not reading as well as they should.
If we don’t act now, we’re on track to leave around 1.5 million children behind by 2025.
New research on reading published by Save the Children – as part of our Read On. Get On. campaign – finds low-income, white British boys are particularly likely to fall behind.
In England, boys are twice as likely as girls to fail to reach a basic reading level. This means we have one of the widest gaps on this measure in the developed world.
The consequences are far-reaching. If you’re already behind in reading when you leave primary school, it’s likely that you’ll continue to struggle through secondary education.
And in adult life, being unable to read can make everyday tasks, such as reading job adverts or a doctor’s prescription, near impossible.
Poor literacy is linked to unemployment, low pay and even crime. Around one in four people earning less than £10,000 is not functionally literate – compared with fewer than one in 25 for those earning over £30,000.
If we carry on like this, by 2025 the cost of this failure will represent over 2% of the UK economy’s GDP lost in squandered talent by 2025.
That’s why today Save the Children and many other organisations are launching the Read On. Get On. campaign.
Our aim is to ensure that all children are reading well at age 11, by 2025.
Ten minutes a day
Everyone has a role to play. Just ten minutes a day reading with a child makes a huge difference and can help them fall in love with reading. Children who don’t enjoy reading are ten times more likely to fall behind by 11.
It will take everyone – parents, grandparents, business, volunteers, teachers and role models – to tackle this problem once and for all.
Our ambition is bold – but achievable.
And to get there, we have come up with an innovative approach that will bring communities together to help improve their children’s reading, and by doing so, will improve their lives.