World Book Day – improving children’s lives through literacy

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‘The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn the more places you’ll go’ – Dr Seuss

St John’s is passionate about supporting children as they learn and grow. It is vital to us that we provide an environment where children have the chance to live happy, healthy lives and in turn, contribute to our communities for generations to come.

In response to stark educational inequality across Bath and North East Somerset, we created the Foundation Fund. Our Fund targets children from pre-birth to the beginning of secondary school and has been designed to reduce the educational attainment gap across Bath and North East Somerset, helping children meet their age-related expectations.

The Foundation Fund provides support in a variety of areas, one of which being support with literacy. Few things are as powerful as the ability to read. With endless worlds at our fingertips, we can journey to faraway lands or times. We are able to experience joy alongside the characters whose tales we know and love, and those we have not yet met. The pages we read give us inspiration, hope, motivation and most importantly happiness, as well providing the foundations of our ability to learn and understand the world around us.

Encouraging reading from a young age provides children the means to excel alongside their peers. Below we explore a few areas in which reading promotes progression into a happy and healthy adulthood.

Supported Cognitive Development:

Reading to young children is proven to improve cognitive skills and encourage cognitive development. Cognitive development refers to the ability to understand and think for oneself. It focuses on how someone perceives the world through a range of areas such as intelligence, reasoning, information processing, language, and memory.

By introducing reading into a child’s life, you provide them the means to absorb information that will help them make sense of what they are experiencing in their day-to-day lives. This gives children a foundation to understand the world around them in a fuller context and exercise new skills in conversation with others, ultimately expanding their cognitive development.

Improved Language Skills:

Reading to infants and young children is key to building important language skills that will evolve into improved literacy and social skills. Reading at a young age stimulates areas of the brain dedicated to language acquisition and communication skills and in turn fosters confidence with communicating with peers later in life.

Self-expression is extremely important and without the tools to share what we are thinking, life can be very frustrating. With larger vocabularies and knowledge of how to use it in context, we can express ourselves in a clearer way to the people around us.

Increased Concentration and Improved Imagination and Creativity:

Young children have an innate capacity to use their imaginations in a wealth of creative ways. Reading can open the doors to all kinds of fun and fantastic worlds for children, as well providing the means to explore places, times, events and people beyond their own experience. Heightened creativity can be beneficial for a variety of subject areas in school as well as potentially fostering a love for creative endeavours in later life.

In addition to improved imagination is improved concentration. Numerous studies have found that as well as building comprehension skills, reading also promotes a longer attention span and better memory retention. By exercising these skills, we create a strong foundation for learning when in a school environment as well as in day-to-day life.

Preparation for Academic Success:

Research has shown a strong correlation between children who are exposed to reading from a young age and being successful when they reach formal education. Reading helps to jump start educational success by providing a strong basis from which we can learn about the world whilst giving tools to express our feelings and opinions of experiences. When children encounter and utilise literacy skills such as reading comprehension, phonics and vocabulary, they will begin to feel more confidence within their education and wider society, which in turn gives them the ability to excel as they mature.

At St John’s Foundation, we understand the importance of the benefits associated with literacy. We believe that all children should have their educational needs addressed and we are very proud to deliver a fund, sponsorship and support that provides children with an equal start in not only their education, but in life.