Reading for Pleasure
Reading for Pleasure is a notion that can be misleading, especially in a context of literacy (policy). Some may associate it with good readers, who pick up a fat novel to enjoy themselves. However, within ELINET (and within a wider context of reading promotion) Reading for Pleasure means: voluntary reading, and choosing (what) to read, either during school time or in free time. It can be a powerful tool in all age groups and amongst all levels of readers. Those who cannot read, will need assistance from others (e.g. parents, teachers) to access and comprehend the reading materials of their interest.
Reading for Pleasure during childhood has been identified as having long term benefits. Individuals who read for pleasure as children had enhanced vocabulary levels 30 years later. The benefits may be because ‘good’ reading habits established during childhood endure through adolescence and into adulthood. Advocacy by Book Trust and others means that Reading for Pleasure is acknowledged now in the National Curriculum for English schools. Book Trust’s Bookstart ‘books for babies’ programme - beginning that lifelong enjoyment of sharing and reading stories - has been funded by the UK Government since 2000. The Book Start Corner home-visiting programme targets disadvantaged parents with children under 3. The benefits of programmes such as these are seen in the evidence of more reading with children in the home (71%) and increased parental confidence about how to share stories with their young children (85%). And for older children, giving 11-year-olds choices and opportunities to read increases their enjoyment and the amount of reading that they do. It just takes the right book to help all children discover the joys of reading!
It is clear the advocacy case has to be made to key stakeholders across Europe. At times it may seem an uphill task, but we gain strength from what has been achieved - for instance, Bookstart has been replicated in 30 countries, and there is growing interest in EURead from many countries - and from the influence of our fictional role models, those characters that made most impact on ELINET members when they were children: Pippi Longstocking, Jo March (Little Women), Tom Sawyer and others. These are feisty figures. It is our Reading for Pleasure that gives us the belief that we will win through.