• Taking part in today’s Big Read world record attempt

    This morning I’m off to take part in The Big Read, which is a world record attempt to get as many children reading with an adult as possible. It sounds like a lot of fun, and a great way to get children to realise that reading is enjoyable, and can be both a private and a shared experience.

    Here is the blurb from the press release about trying to get 3000 children involved:

     Over 35 schools across London and from as far as Reading and Croydon will participate in this unique event, which seeks to highlight the importance of literacy, locally, nationally and internationally.
    The world record attempt will involve authors, teachers and some special guests reading from Roald Dahl’s classic ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ to the assembled children. Celebrities taking part include journalist, Victoria Brittain, BBC London presenter Asad Ahmed and Hedy Epstein, an 85 year old holocaust survivor.
    A special guest appearance will take place by John Stephens who worked as part of the special effects team on what turned out to be the cult film, ‘Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.’
    Reverend Jesse Jackson, is lending his support to the BIG Read. At a forum at the House of Commons on Friday, 26 February 2010, the Reverend Jackson stated: “I support the BIG Read because if you can read, you can reason. Reading is like a light to your brain. It takes you out of darkness… Literacy liberates. Reading and reasoning are forces for change, for the good”.

    I certainly echo what the Reverend says – reading is absolutely fundamental. But also, once a child matures, making sense of what you are reading, and thinking critically about it – and realising that you too have something to say – is pretty important too.

    Thus spake the blogger who discovered much later than she ought to have that everyone has a voice, and everyone should express it.

    Having said all of that I’m looking forward to reading the part of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory chews the chewing gum and turns into a big purple blueberry.

    Update: The results of the event are in – and it’s a world record! There were 3234 participants (including me) who broke the world record for ‘the most children reading with an adult’.

    If you wanna be the best and stand out from the rest you gotta be a record breaker. No matter what the test if you become the best you gotta be a record breaker. Record breakers are headline makers and they are the top of heap!


    continue reading
  • Save the Children’s World Record Run this weekend…

    I’m not one that usually advertises many other events on my blog, but this one caught my attention: Save the Children, and a new charity called IF which seeks to raise money for worthwhile causes through fun and innovative ideas, are staging a World Record breaking attempt for “the most people running 100 meters in a 12-hour relay.” (according to the Guinness book of records official title). I think the number will be around 3000 – 4000 people, who will run in relay at Mile End Stadium, and hopefully bring the record in for London. Each runner is being asked for £100 sponsorship minimum, which means that the run could raise upwards for £300,000, which will be donated to Save the Children’s Humanitarian fund for Gaza.

    It’s great to see innovative ideas for fundraising, especially those which challenge the participants themselves. I wish all the runners well.

    You can read more here, and of course, remember to get out your chequebook, or access your paypal account:

    continue reading
  • UK and US come bottom of child well-being report

    According to a recent report from UNICEF A League Table of Child Poverty in Rich Nations, the UK and the USA are the worst places for children out of 21 developed countries. This is shocking news for countries which are the fifth richest and the richest nation on earth respectively. What is going wrong? Have these countries identified the wrong strategies? Are their priorities focused elsewhere? It seems their gaze is not firmly fixed on social issues and the moral authority of the state, and the moral authority of society as a whole to create a palpable sense of community have withered.

    David Cameron has come out to say that fatherhood needs more emphasis. He is suggesting tax breaks to encourage fathers to get more involved. How does a state force fathers to spend time with their kids? The report threw up some intriguing data. Children from really poor and deprived backgrounds do better when they go to breakfast clubs, get fed breakfast, get away from their families where the stress of the relationships and the behaviours of their parents cause detriment to them. But equally children want to spend time with their parents and crave the solidity of positive social relationships with their family and their peers.

    There is clearly a re-forging of relationships that is required between the ‘adult’ generation and the ‘child’ generation, but there needs to be some work done to recreate the sense of community and solidarity amongst ‘adults’ to share the responsibilities of bringing up a generation. Today, there seems to be no shame in leaving your kids to it, whereas perhaps twenty, thirty or fifty years ago, taking your parental responsibilites was a social norm, and those parents that didn’t had social fingers pointed at that. Perhaps what we need, rather than tax breaks and ASBOs, is for social honour and a sense of moral responsibility to be instilled once again.

    continue reading