In 2014 I laughed at the idea of doing something as outlandish as setting up a charity. But this is 2015. And what once seemed as implausible as a 30-year-old first time director getting an Oscar nomination, now feels just within reach.
Today I’m feeding on community projects, charities and organisations that are using words to make a difference to kids in need. There’s never been any doubt in my mind that words are a powerful tool to hold in your arsenal. A well worded letter can you get you money back on those hot pink diamond trimmed slipper socks you got for Christmas, a good story can send wired kids drifting off to sleep and great speeches can rally whole nations to a joint cause. We all know the power of words. So it’s worrying to find that today’s youngest generation has literacy levels only matching those of the eldest generation. But what tangible benefits can reading really offer growing children?
“Reading for pleasure is the single biggest factor for success later in life” – Bali Rai
I dug around and discovered a mammoth stack of research compiled by literacy agencies and governing bodies which backed up my thesis, but the one that stuck says it all: “Reading for pleasure,” says Bali Rai, “is the single biggest factor for success later in life”. This means that reading is more influential on a child’s future than any economical or social aspects. If this is the case then reading really is a powerful tool, powerful enough to break cycles of crime, illiteracy and even poverty within families.
By contract then, illiteracy is a real antithesis to success. And success doesn’t mean going to university or becoming a doctor. Where reading breeds both logic and imagination, confidence, self worth and a thirst to acquire further knowledge, illiteracy is a barrier to all of this. Thinking further I realise that we live in a world of heightened communications. From emails to social media, our world is increasingly woven by words. A teenager or adult with a lack of reading skills in this world, simply gets left behind, academically and socially.
This Feed has affirmed my belief in the power of words. And although, chances are, most children won’t have read all of the children’s books and acquired telekineses skills by the age of 4 (like Matilda), I believe that instilling a love of reading is valuable, beyond words.