With Christmas around the corner, we're encouraging parents, families and anyone buying a gift for a child or young person to give the gift of a diary. You'll be giving them a platform to express themselves and the tools to become a better writer, which will help them now and long in to the future. And you never know - your child might just produce the next Diary of a Wimpy Kid!
We face a huge literacy challenge in England which is preventing many of our children and young people from being able to thrive and lead successful lives. Gender, socio-economic background and where children live are all at the heart of our literacy challenge. Boys in England are nearly twice as likely as girls to fall behind in early language and communication; and children at all ages from the lowest income groups are likely to be less literate than their counterparts from higher income groups.
Engaging young people in local social action - such as volunteering - paves the way for a better future. It enables them to make a positive difference to their local community, as well as providing them with a platform to develop new skills, gain valuable experience, and grow into confident and socially conscious adults.
So, why does this matter? We know that children who enjoy writing and who write frequently outside the classroom do better at school. Our research showed that children and young people who enjoy writing very much were seven times more likely to write above the expected level for their age, compared with those who do not enjoy writing at all
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.