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O’Dowd – reading for pleasure a great pastime for children

3 October, 2011 - by John O'Dowd

Reading is not just a vital skill – it can open up a world of fun, imagination and learning for children and young people.

That is the message from Education Minister John O’Dowd for Children’s Book Week 2011.

The initiative, run by the Booktrust across Great Britain and the north of Ireland, is a celebration of reading for pleasure aimed at children of primary school age and has been running for over 80 years.

Speaking about the initiative, the Minister said: “I often talk about how vital it is for our young people to have good literacy skills. Literacy is essential in learning, for future job prospects and in our everyday lives. But reading is also something children should enjoy and want to do. Reading can be great fun and books, comics, whatever it happens to be, can fuel the imagination in a way that other media just cannot replicate.

“Importantly, it has been shown that children who read for pleasure perform better than those who don’t. I am concerned that a significant proportion of pupils here do not read for pleasure, and further that more boys than girls do not do so. Yet with smart phones and hand-held computers, reading material is more easily available than ever before.

“Children’s Book Week is an excellent initiative that celebrates reading for pleasure and encourages young people to explore libraries and bookshops and even start writing themselves. Complementing Children’s Book Week are the activities delivered in the north and south by Children’s Books Ireland and I would encourage schools to engage with these initiatives for the benefit of their pupils’ reading ability.”

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