“There’s a book for everyone no matter your ability or interest.”
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By day Sean Keyes is Managing Director at Sutcliffe, a multi disciplinary firm of Structural and Civil Engineers. By night he is a Liverpool primary school governor. This World Book Day (5 March) he shares his thoughts on why it’s so important we get our children (and grown-ups) reading more.
As a young lad growing up on Smithdown Road, Liverpool during the 1980s, reading wasn’t my priority. I gave much greater emphasis to playing football and going out with my mates.
As I have grown older, I have realised that I should have spent more time reading, as I definitely had the opportunity, but chose to follow other pursuits.
It has only been in recent years that I have been exposed to Liverpool Educational data. Boys tend to underachieve in both reading and writing. I was one of those boys who considered it not cool to read a book. Subsequently, I spent the next 10 years catching up, which is something in later life I regretted!
As a parent and a school governor in a Liverpool Local Authority primary school, my focus on children reading to improve the mind has changed. I fully appreciate how poor education has held back many parents in their reading ability and this has had a knock-on effect to their children.
At our school, we actively encourage all of the parents to get involved in the reading clubs which start from Early Years to Year 6.
We also encourage parents to support their children’s reading in their formative years by reading nursery rhymes and bedtime stories regularly. The links between school and the wider community means there are support groups for those with a low reading age.
Liverpool City Council actively promote reading in schools, which has led to our school receiving a silver award for reading and I know our parents played an active part in improving the standard of reading.
The novels I enjoyed most growing up were those written by Roald Dahl and included ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ and ‘The BFG’. Seeing these stories at the cinema with your family after you have read the book is such a great experience. I have fond memories of reading the ‘Beano’ and ‘Shoot’ and the kids of today don’t know what they are missing out on. My desert island book of choice is the ‘Structural Engineer’s Pocket Book’. It is pretty dog eared now and worth its weight in gold to me! There’s a book for everyone no matter your ability or interest. Now that I am older, I tend to mainly read technical magazines and newspapers, as I like to keep up to date with sport, business and current affairs.
Liverpudlians are natural entrepreneurs and Mayor Joe Anderson is placing education as one of the city’s priorities.
The city needs to be obsessed with education, to exactly the same extent as football, to make us world leaders in business and in my opinion, this starts with reading at an early age.