England literacy rates are the worst in the developed world. Are boring reading schemes in primary schools responsible?

Bearing in mind in 2016 England was named the worst in the developed world for literacy, why are children given such uninspiring first books to read.

For many children, this is one of the first books they ever read. Their first impression on books and they are reading about weather and farming techniques. This is a missed opportunity to engage 5 year old’s and excite them about reading. Books face heavy competition, as children spend on average six hours a day on screens (source: Childwise, 2015).

The book my 5 year old son bought home is a two-parter. Following on from ‘The Flood’, in which nothing happens, comes ‘After the Flood’. ¬†‘The Flood’ almost made me poke my eyes out with his fidget spinner. Really, all that happened was it rained and the animals had to stand on a hill. That was it.

We are taught that when writing stories, there should be a beginning, a middle and an end. The climax of in ‘After the Flood’ is that two sheep panic when a pig comes into the barn. There is no main character. In fact, none of the animals in the book have been given any character traits. ¬†There is no dialogue, there are no interactions and none of the characters have opinions or feelings, except for that they are miserable.

Miserable cows

The Follifoot Farm series are my son’s first reading books which could potentially house some action. These books should be grabbing his imagination by the proverbial horns and taking him on adventures he could only dream about. He should be excited, held in suspense, thrilled, laughing… I’d have settled for any emotion, except for boredom.

He did not care that the sheep and cows were miserable. He loves to hear stories about knights, Winnie the Pooh, space rockets, witches… anything but miserable cows and sheep.

I question why these books are used in schools as a method to encourage children to read? I would love to see children excited to read the books they are sent home from school with.

I wrote this message to the class teacher in my son’s communication book,

“We haven’t read these two books. L found them boring, and I had to agree with him. Don’t worry, we are off to the library in the summer holidays in search of astronauts and magic carpets.”

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