Reading is one of the most important skills that you can teach a child and will define how well they achieve educationally, and throughout their whole lives, writes Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council.
Barbara and I would read to our children every day when they were young until they were old enough to read for themselves. Even then, we would encourage them by buying books and taking them to the library, which I do now with my grandchildren.
The other morning on my way into work, I listened to a report on the radio about the level of disadvantage experienced by a child at school if they have not been read to from a young age. Many of them will struggle more than children who have experience of reading and may never make up this delay in their learning.
In Peterborough, reading levels are lower than the national average. I want that to change, and quickly, so that every child in the city has the same opportunities to share a love of reading. That is why we launched the Vision for Reading last year with our partners at the National Literacy Trust, Vivacity and City College Peterborough.
The campaign asks everyone in the city - teachers, parents, businesses and others - to play their part in helping children to develop a lifelong love of reading which in turn will improve their life chances.
As part of it, we’re supporting parents to prepare their children for school by, for example, reading to them at home, we’re training reading buddies in schools who can read with children, and we’re celebrating the Year of Reading, launching on June 22.
Everyone is invited to attend the launch in Cathedral Square between 10am and 4pm where there will be storytelling, free books to take home, activities and more.
The event kicks off a year-long programme of events that will include The Space Chase summer reading challenge, Roald Dahl Day in September, writing competitions and story trails. You can find out more by visiting www.peterboroughcelebrates.org.uk.
The year will culminate with a striking trail of book-shaped benches across Peterborough created by schools, community groups and businesses in association with creative producers Wild in Art.
Whether you’re a parent, business owner, or teacher, please support our campaign to get every child in the city enjoying books from a young age. For our children it will lead to improved life chances, and for our businesses it will mean a better qualified workforce of the future.
Raising reading levels will always be harder for us in Peterborough than for many other areas, because of the number of different languages spoken in our schools, and a higher than usual number of children starting and leaving school mid-year.
But it is a challenge that we must meet and together I believe that we can.
We’re in the middle of Carers Week at the moment, which has been incredibly successful in raising awareness of the thousands nationwide who care for a friend or family member.
Here in Peterborough, the council works closely with the Carers Trust to provide support to carers and their families, by providing regular workshops, support networks, short breaks and emergency care.
If you are a carer, I really would recommend you visit their website at www.carerstrustpeterborough.org and to register with the Emergency Support for Carers service by phoning 01733 747474 which can help carers of adults if an emergency occurs.
We now have a new MP for Peterborough and I will be making contact with her soon to arrange a meeting.
I want us to be able to work together for the benefit of Peterborough, and to ensure our residents get the best deal possible from parliament.
I also look forward to briefing her on some of the issues that we face, and to set the record straight on some of the comments that she made in the run up to the election which were not quite accurate.
Finally, the weather may not be up to much this week, but my sources tell me it’s set to improve this weekend. If you get a chance, try out one of the new table tennis tables we’ve installed at parks across the city thanks to a partnership with Viridor, Table Tennis England and Living Sport.
There are eight in total at Central Park, Itter Park, Nene Valley Community Centre, Connect Park and Braybrook. They’re free to use, with bats and balls available to borrow.