Here is Kelly.
She’s 8 and currently stuck at home in flat with her mum and two little brothers. She’s not going to go back to school for months.
Kelly already struggles with schoolwork and learning. She doesn’t get much support from home and money is in short supply. The lockdown has been stressful and miserable for them all.
What’s going to happen to her over the next few months? She going to fall further behind those children from middle-class families who have space and resources and time and access to learning materials and books.
The gap widens. Inequality is reinforced. The possibility of upward social mobility in the future becomes even more distant. Society suffers alongside Kelly and her family.
Can anything be done? Yes. There is something Kelly could do if given a few things and a lot of encouragement and support. Something that would help her with learning and awareness. Something that would improve her English and Maths. Something that would relieve her stress, her boredom and bring her a greater likelihood of happiness in the future.
Reading for pleasure.
If she was given access to a government supported scheme backed by a national campaign, she could have access to free books of her choice. Each would be supported by an exciting video enticing her to read – featuring a range of inspirational children’s authors.
There is a lot of research to prove that reading for pleasure has a number of hugely beneficial effects on children who spend time with books each day.
it’s not easy to get kids reading who live in non-reading, often chaotic, households. I know that. I’ve worked in this area for 30 years. But it’s possible. If it was done right, Kelly and thousands of kids like her could be given hope for a brighter future.
There are so many superb, appealing, funny, exciting, adventurous interesting children’s books available right now, covering every topic and feeding every interest.
With some political will and backing, as a country we could get them to Kelly and kids like her.
Or we could do bugger all.