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Strengthening our commitment to reading

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The importance of strong literacy skills cannot be overstated, as the ability to read is a prerequisite for mastering other core subjects and by extension, to succeeding in school and very often at life. No matter what background children come from, reading is essential for them to build the skills and confidence they need to succeed.

Last Friday, at the Peace Memorial Hall, Courts (St Vincent) Ltd showcased, in the finals of their reading competition, some of the best readers in our nation’s primary schools.{{more}} We commend these students and all those who took part in the preliminary rounds of the competition. These youngsters are the cream of the crop. We also commend the teachers and parents who worked with the students to prepare them and the organizers and sponsors of this worthwhile competition.

At the other end of the spectrum are those children who struggle to make sense of print. In the last decade or so, the number of specialist reading teachers who work with our children has increased, but there are still far too few for the task at hand. That extra push to help our children to learn to read has to be made in the schools, as very often, parents struggle with generationally entrenched illiteracy, or do not have the skills, temperament or flexibility to assist their children.

But beyond getting right the mechanics of reading, the commitment to reading in schools should be strengthened to inculcate not only proficiency in reading skills, but also a love for the worlds and insights that books open to readers.

Also, very often, when we speak of the importance of reading, the focus tends only to be on our school age population, with little attention being paid to the importance of reading for lifelong learning and enrichment.

Some attention needs to be paid to encouraging the entire society to read, for not only do children’s behaviour mirror that of their parents, people who develop and maintain the habit of reading literature are inspired to be better citizens who are more empathetic, reflective, creative and politically responsible.

Today’s society tends to be very easily distracted with the multitude of electronic gadgets at our fingertips and the social media applications that these gadgets run. We would all do ourselves and our society a favour by trying the break the mindless addiction of checking our smartphones for messages or Likes several times an hour and replacing it with one that has us turning or swiping the pages of a good book.

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