Since 2001 more than two million pupils left primary school without the ability to read well. Reading well, and with enjoyment, is a skill that unlocks opportunities at school and in life. If children do not read well, and enjoy reading, by the age of 11 they are likely to suffer social, economic and cultural exclusion as adults.
Retirement should be a landmark moment in all of our lives. And it should be a cause of celebration where we look forward to extra leisure time or moments with friends and family. So it is alarming that new research - commissioned by Beanstalk - shows that the vast majority of people are worried about retirement.
So, alongside this initiative let's keep driving reading every day. It doesn't matter who's doing the reading - parent or child - ideally both - let's make it happen. And if you have an hour to spare let's get more and more adults sharing their love of reading with children at their local school - every interaction will help.
Most of the attention in our education system is paid to the older end - exams and universities. Yet much of the action - in terms of making a difference - takes places at the start. Or even before children arrive at school. Put it this way: if you want better GCSE results, you should invest in nursery education.
The arrival of the postman with the latest instalment of news from a pen pal or a favourite aunt evokes childhood memories for those of us who grew up before the era of text messages and emails. Although the postman mainly delivers junk mail now - even bills have gone online - I'm glad to report that the art of letter writing is still alive.
The government is launching a new campaign this week to encourage better reading among the young: "Read On. Get On". Based on a report that links the inability to "read well" with potential joblessness later in life, it's the latest of many articles and reports bemoaning a decline in traditional reading skills among young people.
The 'Read On. Get On' campaign has an historic goal - to eliminate illiteracy. It may surprise some that in this country with its literary heritage, its leading universities, its Nobel laureates, its history and its world-class economy, that illiteracy should remain untamed and intractable. Yet one in five 11-year-olds are still leaving primary school struggling with the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.