The ReadLondon initiative is a project that has been set up in partnership with two inner city schools in London, after the success of a similar project in the Harlem district of New York.
The Harlem project found that by hot housing a group of children for two weeks, with a combination of reading support, access to texts and cultural visits that supported their reading, reading levels improved dramatically for the children involved.
The idea is to boost children’s reading in a two week project which is to take place over the summer holidays, and provide support during the gap between primary and secondary education.
The long summer holidays are traditionally the time when literacy levels dip in children who have poorer literacy skills anyway. There are several factors at play here, primarily the fact that they are unsupported by school reading schemes for six weeks, and that they may not get any help with their reading and/or access to books over the holidays. Adjusting to secondary school can be tough, and struggling with a slip in reading standards that has happened over the holidays can make it tougher.
Representatives of the Teach First scheme will be taking a group of children on trips to some of London’s biggest tourist attraction; Buckingham Palace, Greenwich Royal Naval College and The Natural History Museum to name but a few. The children will visit the sites and be supported by parallel reading projects headed up by sixth formers who have volunteered to support the children.
The project is in its infancy, but is already beginning to attract support and attention from authors, with the hope that more authors will get on board and provide mentoring and other support.
You can find out more about the scheme on the dedicated Read London website, which you can access by clicking on the link here.
At present the project is only running in the capital, but it would be fascinating to see if, if it bears fruit, it could be duplicated in other towns and cities in the UK. The problem of falling literacy rates over the summer holidays is clearly not one that the capital suffers from alone, and a reading scheme that engages children who are no longer eligible for library summer schemes (which this is), and which combines a sense of place and excitement with the idea of reading, could be just the thing to boost reading levels everywhere.