The Headteacher column with Richard Harrison

Richard Harrison, headteacher at The Market Weighton School.
Richard Harrison, headteacher at The Market Weighton School.

If you are looking for a last minute present for a younger member of your family, why not buy them a good book.

All children and adults, for that matter, love a good story but many children lose their love of reading as they move through school.

In school we have created more time for reading and have invested in web-based technology to track progress.

In school we have created more time for reading and have invested in web-based technology to track progress.

Perhaps we have too many other distractions these days, with smart phones and games consoles?

But children certainly like to gossip and share their stories on Snapchat or WhatsApp.

Many are skilled at adding drama to every break up between friends and will come home every day with a story to regale, so why do they stop reading?

There is strong evidence linking reading for pleasure and educational outcomes.

We know that academic attainment is of vital importance, but the benefits of reading for pleasure go beyond this and stretch throughout a person’s life.

The relationship between reading for pleasure and wellbeing is particularly interesting, with evidence showing a correlation between reading for pleasure regularly and lower levels of stress and depression.

The Alzheimer’s Society say that people who take part in activities that stimulate the brain (such as reading, learning and doing puzzles) are less likely to develop dementia, compared with those who do not engage in these activities.

Several research studies have found that reading for pleasure can result in improved relationships, increasing empathy with others and refining our sense of connectedness to the wider community.

Reading increases our understanding of our own identity and gives us an insight into the world view of others.

In school we have created more time for students to read and have invested in web based technology to track progress.

Through generous donations from the Market Weighton Charity Shop and local businesses, the school has been able to buy books for our prizegiving and we have also prioritised the purchase of books.

Our students are encouraged to read more widely and more often but reading is not just something that children should do in school; it needs to be an everyday part of our lives.

The benefits of reading are more likely to be felt when reading takes place through free choice and the outcomes of reading will occur more often and more strongly if reading is enjoyable in the first instance. This is why the ‘for pleasure’ element is so important.

Parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles all play a vital part in creating a love of reading so I would encourage you to consider giving a book this Christmas.