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Happy World Book Day 21st Century Style

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Happy World Book Day - I hope you find a space in your day to curl up with something good to read. But in these days of the read/write web, Kindles, ebooks and social networking, I think it's a good day to celebrate literacy of all kinds.

I can't remember a time when I couldn't read, that's what you happens if your mum is a teacher. My literacy and communication is still my most valuable and treasured skill. I hope that the same will be true of my own children and as they grown and learn to talk, read and write I never tire of the magic of each new thing learned. I vividly remember the first time my daughter, then aged two, read words. We were out shopping in the city and she said, "Look Mummy - it says - John Lewis!." She'd spotted a lorry bearing the name of her favourite department store, toy shop and vendor of slices of chocolate cake. I was a proud mum that day, and it didn't matter to me one bit that what she had read wasn't in a book.

She's four now, and can apply the same skills to the words in her story books as she did to the writing on the lorry. She also reads words on the television screen, on shop fronts, on sweet wrappers, in the supermarket... I could go on. The big deal is that she can read, she can see the point of reading and she loves it.

Caty will go to school soon, where I hope that her love of reading and all kinds of communication will be fostered. But what sort of literacy should be she taught at school? Certainly not the limited phonics based tosh the government seem to be so keen on. I want her to read everything and anything. I want her to become a discerning and thoughtful reader, to understand the purpose of reading, the meaning behind text, the context and motives of the person who wrote it. In short I hope her school will equip her to become a 21st Century reader, one who understands that you can find a book in the library or click on Wikipedia to find out about something. A reader who will take her story books to bed with a torch, but also enjoy a good story told on film. A reader who knows that you shouldn't believe everything you read in a newspaper, or on social media websites.

Back in the late 1990s when I was teaching in a Primary School, I was charged with bringing my colleagues' computer skills up to scratch. A challenging task, especially as during our first staff development session one teacher sat with her arms folded and flatly declared she couldn't see the point, because who would ever want to take a computer to bed instead of a good book. I was astonished, and I had to admit it had never occurred to me that anyone would ever want to do this (although I was wrong of course, I can hear you Kindle readers shouting). But technology and digital culture moves fast, and if as educators we don't engage in teaching 21st Century literacy we will be letting our children down.

So Happy World Book Day, enjoy your reading, whatever, wherever and however you choose to do it.

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