Julia Donaldson, the former children’s laureate, has been criticised by angry parents after her latest picture book featured a character smoking, with reviewers calling it “inappropriate”, “uncomfortable” and “disgusting”.
Donaldson’s latest book, The Scarecrows’ Wedding, features a self-proclaimed “dashing” scarecrow who blows smoke rings with a cigar to impress his intended beau.
Parents who bought the book, which is aimed at young children, have now complained in online reviews about its content
Booktime, run by Booktrust and Pearson, will give away its ten millionth book to four year old Ruby on today’s Daybreak programme. Appearing alongside Loose Women presenter and Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay, who acts as the ambassador for Booktime this year, Ruby will be given her book pack on live breakfast TV.
Booktime (www.booktime.org.uk) has been giving books to reception-aged children for eight years, and is about to give out its ten millionth book. The scheme aims to inspire a lifelong love of reading, giving two free books to 765,000 reception-aged children in England and Wales in the 2013-2014 year of school. This year’s books for children in England are Charlie and Lola’s But Excuse Me That is My Book, published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Children’s, and Tom’s Mad Mop, from the Bug Club series by Pearson UK, part of Pearson’s education business. Four to five-year-olds in Wales will receive Charlie and Lola’s But Excuse Me That is My Book as well as a Welsh language title. In addition, every primary school and library can also access free guidance and activity sheets on the Booktime website, with extra resources for libraries and parents also available.
Leading personalities including Mount Pleasant actress and Loose Women presenter Sally Lindsay, comedian Lenny Henry, TV presenters Holly Willoughby, Piers Morgan, Matthew Wright and ITN’s Julie Etchingham, along with Malorie Blackman, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, have joined forces to lend their support to this initiative that encourages parents and carers to spend time reading for pleasure with their children.
This year, for the first time, children, together with their parents and carers, can log onto the Booktime website www.booktime.org.uk for free e-books to read online from Pearson. They will also be able to listen to the books being read aloud as well as access free games and activities.
More ‘research’ evidince purporting to show a decline in children’s reading…
Children as young as eight years old are being turned off reading because of a lack of “quiet time” in childhood, combined with greater access to digital resources from a young age, according to the latest Reading Street report from Egmont, entitled Reading and the Digital World.
Egmont’s research found that children’s growing access to digital resources is coinciding with a decline in being read to at home and at school, resulting in many children not enjoying reading.
Alison David, consumer insight director for Egmont UK, said: “There seem to be fewer times when children are at a ‘loose end’—the times that they would traditionally pick up a book to read—while digital devices are at their fingertips from a very young age.”
Research by Bowker (Understanding the Children’s Book Consumer in the Digital Age) indicates that the key “shift” from books to digital platforms occurs between the age of seven and eight, with the new patterns established by the age of 11.
The Reading Street research among families confirms this, finding that parents take a step back once their children can read relatively competently—usually age seven or eight—hoping and believing they will go on to become independent readers. But, it adds, “Parents stepping back tends to happen at an age and a stage in a child’s development when the digital world is calling very loudly: friends are becoming increasingly important; and having and doing the same things—such as social networking, gaming and texting—all become playground currency. And it is at this vulnerable age in reading progression that parents let go of their child’s hand.”
The study forms part of ongoing research by Reading Street into the reading habits of 12 families across four regions of the UK: Bristol, Edinburgh, London and Manchester.
A survey of 1,000 children by Oxford University Press found around two-thirds of six year olds said they enjoy reading with an adult. Yet, that figure plummets to 44 per cent among children who are just a year older. Half of eight and nine year olds were rarely or never read to at home.
Additional research from The National Literacy Trust found pupils are 13 times more likely to read above the expected level for their age if they enjoy books for pleasure.
James Clements, a former headteacher at an outstanding primary school who worked with OUP on the study, said: ‘All the research proves that reading for pleasure is inextricably linked to attainment and benefits all aspects of children’s lives.
‘Parents need to understand the huge impact reading with their children can make and how vital it is that reading for pleasure doesn’t stop at the school gate but is continued at home.
‘Just ten minutes of reading with their child every day is one of the best ways they can support their education.
‘Reading together six days a week means an extra hour of support for a child. It’s definitely cheaper than an hour with a tutor and it could make a much bigger difference.’
I stumbled on this video on the National Trust website – TV producer, Stephen Moss, explaining why he believes children need outdoor play.
It has had only a little over 1000 views in a year and deserves wider broadcast.
Huge response in the comments section to this piece…
What price progress? The answer for parents who send their children to state schools for what they thought would be a free education is that it can be very high indeed. More and more parents are being asked to buy tablet computers for their children to use in class, at a cost of several hundred pounds. And the move is drawing grumbles from families on tight budgets and fuelling fears of a “digital divide” in education.
Zoobean launched [yesterday] to make it easier for parents to find books that are the most relevant for their children.
Zoobean is a curated catalog of children’s books. Every book on the site is recommended by parents and categorized using “common sense” tags. Parents can search for books that explore specific themes, like bullying, the death of a pet, or magic as well as browse by age group, character background, or genre.
Zoobean was founded by a husband-and-wife duo who both built a carer in education. Felix Brandon Lloyd was named a Washington, D.C., Teacher of the Year for 2000-2001. He went on to build and sell a platform called Skill-Life that taught children about financial literary through online games. Jordan Lloyd Bookey is a former teacher who also directed a DC-based nonprofit supporting literacy efforts in low-income neighborhoods and is the outgoing head of Google’s K-12 Education Outreach.