Primary schools across the country are gearing up for the literacy hour, the key part of the Government’s strategy to achieve its goal for all 11-year-olds to reach level 4 in English by 2002. The hour will require a mixture of group work and whole-class teaching involving working for part of the time on a shared text and reading a wide range of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. BfK will be focusing in forthcoming issues on books and ideas that will help make the literacy hour a time to look forward to.
In the November ’97 issue of BfK I commented on the importance of empowering parents and encouraging them to share books with their babies and young children in the style of the innovative Bookstart Books for Babies project. Now comes the good news that Book Trust, with funding from the Basic Skills Agency, is in a position to make national Bookstart materials available to local authorities nationwide (see page 11 for details).
It has long been known that parents can play an important role in helping their children to read. At the end of 1997, Schools Standards Minister, Stephen Byers, announced that he expects them to spend 20 minutes a day reading with their child. Of course most parents want to do the best for their children and would be glad to help but for some the task may appear daunting. Just how should they go about it?
This issue of BfK includes an insert, From the Beginning: How to Enjoy Books with Your Child. Written by early reading experts Myra Barrs and Sue Ellis of The Centre for Language in Primary Education, From the Beginning is aimed directly at those who want to share books with their babies and young children and encourage them to read but do not know how. Barrs and Ellis’s approach is friendly, practical, relaxed and enthusiastic – a real empowering of parents and other carers. Additional copies can be ordered by readers who would like to make From the Beginning available to parents and other carers in their school, library, nursery or playgroup.