Words transform lives
Research by the National Literacy Trust has shown that literacy has a significant and positive impact on happiness and success. Literate individuals are more likely to live in working households, to own their own homes, and to participate in community activities and the democratic process.
The appetite for English-language publishing is found everywhere – from English language teaching textbooks and children’s adventure stories to academic treatises and medical reference books. One million copies of the Englishlanguage version of the final Harry Potter book were sold in Germany in one month. The vocabulary might include muggle, quidditch and parselmouth, but German schoolchildren, along with millions throughout the world, are being inspired to learn, read and speak English.
One woman who changed her life through reading is Grace Allen. As a child she hated reading. In her sixties, she was persuaded to enrol in her granddaughter’s school’s Extended Reading Programme. She was given a Quick Read, one of a series of books specially published for adult emergent readers. It was the first book she had ever completed. Empowered by her success, she finished almost twenty in the last year alone and she’s now able to help her granddaughter with her homework.
Libraries are critical to making the knowledge, pleasure and empowerment that reading affords accessible to everyone. Their effect on the wellbeing of local communities is incalculable. Their contribution to the success of the 2008 National Year of Reading demonstrated how they can help to advance social policy objectives and meet the changing needs of readers in the future.
Whether Biff and Chip or Quick Reads, books on company law or facial reconstruction techniques, the UK’s publishing sector leads the world in educational and academic resources, making a reality of government literacy and numeracy policies and equipping the next generation with the skills they need in the 21st century.