11th July, 2016

Interview: Why Reading Matters

By Scott W

What is Reading Matters and what does the charity do?

Reading Matters is a charity which specialise in providing one-to-one support for young people who struggle with reading, enabling them to catch up quickly and achieve their potential.

We manage a network of Reading Mentors who help children in schools throughout Yorkshire and also provide training to groups of peer tutors, education staff and parents and carers delivering the skills needed to effectively support children’s reading development.

Why is reading so beneficial for learning?

Reading is fundamental for learning because that’s how we mainly acquire knowledge; books, websites, the white-board at school, we are constantly required to read in order to access information. A child who can read fluently and with confidence is in the best position to do well and reach their potential at school and in life. Reading is essential to success in all subjects ,even those not naturally associated with literacy such as physical education and maths.

What other benefits can reading have for young people?

There are many! Reading develops language proficiency and will help with spelling and building vocabulary. Reading increases your general knowledge and helps you to form opinions on different topics. Reading is also training your brain to concentrate and improves memory function. It is also a great way of developing emotional intelligence, empathy and compassion. It stimulates imagination and creativity and is a great way to relax and ease tension.

How can parents support their children's reading at a young age?

Parents can make a very positive difference to their child’s experience of reading by following some simple strategies at home. Remember that it is never too early to start reading to a child and there are lots of great ‘baby books’ designed to engage very young children. Make sure that there are lots of age-appropriate, attractive and fun books for your children at home. Books can be expensive but take advantage of your local library to access more titles and they often have organised book-related activities for children too.You should aim to read to your child every day which is great for building a bond as well as aiding their language development, communication skills, knowledge and imagination. Ideally, let them see you reading your own books around the home and you will be a reading role model who they will want emulate as they grow.

Many teenagers seem to fall out of love with reading. What strategies do Reading Matters find work for engaging young adults?

We believe that if young people don’t enjoy reading then it’s because they haven’t found the right books to interest them. There are so many books out there, in a wide variety of genres, there is bound to be something which everyone will enjoy. Sometimes all that is needed is someone; a school librarian, a Reading Mentor or a teacher, to point you in the right direction of a book that you may never have encountered alone but that will inspire you to keep reading for pleasure. Some young people will prefer to read comics or non-fiction titles and this should not be discouraged as it is still developing crucial literacy skills and their tastes are likely to evolve with time.

What are the top reads for 2016?

There are many fantastic new children’s titles being published all the time and lots of reviews available online and in book shops and libraries. We love the Tom Gates diaries, written by one of our Patrons, Liz Pichon. The latest of these is called Super Good Skills and the doodle-like illustrations and funny antics in these books really appeal to children.

If you would like to find out more about Reading Matters and the wonderful work they do in supporting young people, visit their website.

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