Love Literacy Birmingham

Last month, Give a Book attended the Love Literacy 2016 event in Birmingham, organised by Peters Books & Furniture. This was a wonderful day packed full of inspirational speakers and practical workshops aimed at those working to improve literacy and raise standards.

It was a celebration of reading! There was a mix of exhibitor stalls, presentations and workshops. Amongst the many speakers there was a presentation by Jonathan Douglas of National Literacy Trust. He spoke about the biggest gap in literacy being social class and how literacy is linked to inequality. He spoke of the OECD study in 2009 that found that “Enjoyment of reading has a greater impact on a child’s educational achievement than their parents’ socio-economic status”. A more recent study in 2012 suggests that “Overall young people who enjoy reading very much are nearly 5 times as likely to read at the expected level for their age compared with young people who do not enjoy reading at all”.

Workshops on various subjects such as the power of reading for enjoyment and running a successful reading club, were put on by different organisations. These included The Phoenix Comic, Achievement for All, Reading Recovery, Catch Up, CLPE, First News, The Reading Agency, National Literacy Trust and Birmingham Services for Education.

There were other enjoyable presentations from James Bell of Renaissance Learning and Julia Etheridge of St Augustine’s Catholic Primary School but the highlight for us at Give a Book were the two presentations by the wonderful children’s authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Cressida Cowell ( who has also kindly chosen our Book of the Month). They both spoke with inspiring enthusiasm about the importance of reading for pleasure and their love of their work shone through.

Frank read an extract from his latest book Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth, a very funny book which covers serious issues about a foster child finding his way. Frank reiterated the importance of shared reading and reading aloud and spoke of the gift of giving the pleasure of reading and not necessarily looking for measurable outcomes and consequences. He spoke of his work with The Reader  and how books can break you out of all types of “prisons” in your life and experience.

Cressida spoke about the inspiration behind her wonderful How to Train your Dragon series of books and how she had always loved to write and read stories. She told how the island where Hiccup (the main character) and his family lives was based on an uninhabited island off the West Coast of Scotland that her family used to visit in the long Summer holidays of her childhood. There was no television and no telephone so it was almost like being castaways. She spoke movingly of a childhood filled with exploration, adventure, imagination and of course writing stories! Like Frank, Cressida is a huge believer in the power of reading aloud and how it can transform the reading experience. She spoke of a teacher who would encourage her to write stories without correcting and checking for errors and she worried whether in today’s busy society there was still space for children to be able to write for sheer pleasure.

This was a new event for Peters and was a huge success, hope we’re invited again next year!


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