During the past two months there's been a flurry of negative reports about primary school tests, from parents keeping their children off school in protest, to headteachers considering resignation following the SATS results. Meanwhile, children are stuck in the middle and can become confused and stressed over the pressure of revision and exam results.
World Book Day [this year on 3 March] is a compelling celebration of books and reading which is recognised by UNESCO and is marked in 100 countries worldwide. It is a wonderful reminder to celebrate all that books bring us and what a source of great pleasure, and fun, they are to us and young readers.
Play therapists work with a play therapy kit that enables a child to tell their stories through metaphor, instead of direct language. By using art, music, clay, sand, drama, puppets, masks, dressing up props, games and therapeutic storytelling, a child reveals their sadness and losses from the safe distance of the metaphor.
As modern books go, I haven't seen much in them that isn't okay for my children to consume. The stories are interesting (the first few times at least - they get a bit much after the twentieth recital), the rhymes are fun, the characters are pretty easy to like. And the big plus - they are much more diverse and not at all offensive/sick/macabre than the fairy tales of old.
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.