I am very fortunate, in that from a very young age I was exposed to the world of books. My mum taught me how to read through phonics before I joined school, and used to take me down to the local library every week, without fail, to take out as many books as my junior card would allow. I used to love the magical creations of Roald Dahl, accompanied by the vivid illustrations of Quentin Blake, and the great mysteries of Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five.
As I grew, I moved on to the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and the incredibly rich descriptive delights of Michael Morpurgo. Eventually I would upgrade to the ‘Young Adults’ card, and could finally take out 15 books. I went through the inevitable Harry Potter phase, and then began to read some of the most captivating, amazingly well-written series for teens out there: GONE by Michael Grant, Alex Rider and The Power of Five, both by Anthony Horowitz, Inkheart by Cornelia Funke, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, CHERUB by Robert Muchamore, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Divergent by Veronica Roth and in my older days, anything and everything by John Grisham. I devoured every new story I found, for the best part of a decade.
Eventually I burnt out and began to read less, the purchase of my first smartphone helping to accelerate that process. It is a regret that I haven’t properly read a full novel for over 2 years (audiobooks don’t really count), but the literary basis was set in stone. The fact that I can string together coherent and even mildly interesting paragraphs is down, in full, to my reading from a very young age, no doubt about it. The fact that I can write a full personal statement for my university application that resulted in an offer from University College London (UCL) without an interview speaks for itself. It is an invaluable tool that leads to success in any and every field. The shopkeeper who misspells his shop sign will tarnish the image of his business and may lead to less custom, the lab technician who cannot write up a proper risk assessment will endanger his colleagues, the accountant who cannot prepare notes on financial statements and strategies for clients will be out of a job quicker than they can say “but I got an A* in Maths”. And this is neglecting all of those jobs whose primary action is writing: lawyers, journalists, teachers, researchers, novelists, playwrights, etc., as well as the fact that every single job requires you to have a legible CV to even apply for it.
Reading and writing are opposite sides of the same coin, it improves the vocabulary, spelling, punctuation and grammar of a child manifold. Its a natural process. This isn’t just for the benefit of writing by the way, their speech will become more varied, more complex. You find that a child who reads is so much more engaging and willing to have a lengthy conversation rather than replying with one word answers; they are more rounded personalities.
I believe that if you instil in your children a love of reading, you bless them with a skill for life. If you read, you can speak and write with so much more panache, and are all the better for it.