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Posted on Mar 2 2023 by Fiona Bailey

As children up and down the country wonder into school dressed as a Harry Potter character or a Roald Dahl favourite for World Book Day, Helen Gunn, English Lead at St Andrew’s Healthcare’s wonders if the essence of the campaign has been lost? 

"The day, which is always held in the first week of March, has become a huge hit, but as the supermarkets cash in on selling costumers, it seems many are missing the mark and forgetting about the intimacy of literacy.

The benefits of a book are endless, but for children, particularly those with mental health issues or learning challenges, they can be simply marvellous for the mind. 

Reading a book offers all of us the opportunity to get lost in another world, so imagine what a relief that could be for a child who may have spent the day struggling at school.

For all children it’s a chance to escape from their day to day difficulties, empathise with the characters and it might even help them to reflect on their own thoughts, feelings, and emotions.

Much like mindfulness, reading is just another way of keeping the mind occupied, so there is very little room for anxious thoughts which may otherwise be dominating.

Additionally, reading supports cognitive development, improves language skills, can help to increase concentration and discipline and may also improve imagination and creativity.

Let’s not forget, that due to libraries and school resources it doesn’t have to cost you anything – what other childhood hobby can we say is free nowadays?

Unfortunately, some children with special educational needs can find blending and segmenting words challenging, which could be putting them off from reading.  

The gateway to getting your child to pick up a book in the first place is to adopt ‘no judgement’ approach when it comes to selection. If an older teenager want to select a book which is targeted to a younger age group, then that is fine.

Young people with dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are often visual learners. So, if they want to look at books that are led largely by pictures, that is absolutely fine.

As a school, we don’t see one type of reading matter as ‘better’ than another so we don’t place any form of emphasis on reading the classics above graphic novels. If they want to read it then that is a positive.

When it comes to reading, there is a place for social media. Yes, believe it or not. TikTok, Facebook and Instagram can be great places for adults to find what the latest books are for young people.

Build reading into an established routine and remember pages don’t mean progress. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to read a book, as long as there’s enjoyment."

For more information about the CAMHS College, click here