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National Reading Month

March is National Reading Month.

 A whole month to celebrate the magic that is reading, and of course the month which contains World Book Day, a day either loved or hated by children and parents alike. 

As an ex-teacher and self proclaimed bibliophile, I am fascinated by how people engage with books. Probably my favourite thing about teaching was seeing that magical moment when something just clicks and a child suddenly has confidence reading. This usually happens around the age of 6 or 7 years old. Seeing the joy in their face when they realise they can read whole pages of words without having to sound them out is pure magic. 

Sadly, for many children this is around the age their interest in reading peaks.

Statistically children read more books a year in Y3, which is 7 and 8 year olds, than at any other time in their lives, around 37 books a year. Of course it is also around this age that most children move onto longer and more complex books, but the average reading age in the UK is only 9 years old and 18% of people said they never read, when surveyed. 

I’m not going to pretend that there haven’t been times when I haven’t read as much as I do now. When my children were younger I perhaps read three or four books a year but I have always had a book on the go. I appreciate that some people are unable to read, for whatever reason, but these statistics include audiobooks.

When people say that they don’t read, it makes me sad. Reading is one of the greatest joys in my life. Sitting in a comfy chair or in bed, with a good book and a cuppa is one of my favourite things in the whole world. Extra points if it’s raining and double points if Im in a caravan or conservatory with the rain on the roof.

Reading is breathing in…

When it comes to reading, I agree with Pam Allyn; “Reading is breathing in and writing is breathing out”.

Obviously my work is based around the power of writing, but it is so much more than that, because I do believe that to be a writer you have to be a reader. We see it all the time in young people. Those who read and are read to, have wider vocabularies and a better grasp of grammar and sentence structure than those who show no interest in reading. Without both we can’t survive.



How can you celebrate National Reading Month?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Visit your local library – So many libraries are struggling to stay open and they are such an incredible resource. Why not pop along to yours and find out about all the resources and services they offer now. They are definitely not just a place to borrow books any more.

2. Start, or join, a Book Club – Book Clubs are a great way to enjoy books with other book lovers. If you enjoy reading a particular type of book, why not start a book club specifically for that type of book? You will always find other people with similar taste if you ask around. Remember Book Clubs can be run online now so you don’t have to just find people in your area.

3. Start a Bookstagram account – If you really enjoy reading, Instagram has an incredibly friendly community of fellow booklovers. People share book reviews and photos of the books they are reading. It’s a wonderful way of making other bookish friends. (If you decide to do this, look me up and let’s be friends: @katebeddow).

4. Visit the home of a famous local author – Most parts of the world have houses you can visit which have connections to famous authors. Why not have a day out and find out more about an author who lived near you?

5. Find a local book event – Perhaps there is a book signing at a local bookshop, an event at your local library, or a talk being given by an author locally. Have a quick google search and see what you can find.

6. Read a book – I know it seems obvious, but this is the single most important thing you can do during National Reading Month!


Any reading counts!

There is no judgment about what you read. If you want to read a magazine, newspaper, graphic novel, classical novel, romance, thriller, murder mystery, historical fiction, fantasy… then read that! Honestly, it isn’t about what you are reading, it is about keeping those reading muscles flexed. If you enjoy reading children’s books (I know I do!), read those, read a recipe book or a car manual, it really doesn’t matter. The benefits of reading are extensive; increased empathy, reduced stress, prevents cognitive decline, increased vocabulary, improved empathy and improved readiness for sleep to name just a few.

To say nothing of the joy it brings when you find a book or a series that really captures your imagination and draws you in. There is no better feeling than finding a book you don’t want to put down. 

How will you celebrate National Reading Month? I hope I have given you some inspiration, and also some reasons why it’s a good idea to embrace the joy of reading.

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