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World Book Day: 'Books still key for children's development' – education experts – University of Reading

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World Book Day: 'Books still key for children's development' – education experts

Release Date 07 March 2013

Books are key to improving children's vocabulary

As schools celebrate World Book Day today (7 March 2013), educational experts at the University of Reading's Institute of Education highlight the importance of reading for educational development - whatever the medium.

Professor Rhona Stainthorp is a leading expert in the development of reading and writing skills among children who has advised the UK government and education ministers in Wales, Malaysia and Vietnam. She has also acted as an advisor for ‘Alphablocks', a BBC TV programme aimed at young children.

She said: "Children need books, and enabling children to read is one of the greatest gifts we can give each new generation.

"Books are the key to the magical world of words. We know that through reading children develop their vocabulary and through developing their vocabulary they are able to enhance their understanding in all subjects. But not all children learn in the same way, which is why at the Institute of Education at the University of Reading we are studying what the barriers to learning might be, to help teachers identify those children who need extra support in reading the words and understanding the texts."

Dr Jessie Ricketts, reader in the psychology of reading and language, University of Reading, said: "World Book Day plays an important role in promoting the enjoyment of reading and books in schools. While it is essential that schools concentrate their efforts on teaching the mechanics of learning to read, children who appreciate that books are to be enjoyed are more likely to gain the experience of reading that they need to become efficient readers who understand what they read."

Sara Zadrozny, lecturer in English and education, University of Reading, said trainee teachers needed to gain a strong understanding not just of how children learn, but how changing technology in the past and present had altered how they access books.

Students training to be teachers at the University of Reading's Institute of Education have access to the unique Children's Collection of books at the University's Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), which includes many rare editions of children's literature classics. It also houses the Ladybird Archive, with thousands of original items from the publishers of the iconic Ladybird books.

"For this generation of undergraduates, the rare editions from the ‘golden age' of children's literature, like Beatrix Potter's Tales and early educational books like the Ladybird series, mean that the Harry Potter generation of students have a broader understanding of publishing and the cost of early books," she said.

"Put simply, modern children are lucky to live in an age that can produce books relatively cheaply. In previous ages, children relied on privilege to get access to books."


For more information or to organise interviews contact Pete Castle or Donna Sibley at the University of Reading press office on 0118 378 7391/7388 or or

Notes to editors:

The University of Reading's Institute of Education is one of the leading university-based providers of teacher training in the country, with an internationally-recognised reputation for educational research.

The University of Reading is ranked among the top 1% of universities in the world (THE World University Rankings 2012).

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