The BBC reports that the UK government’s Department for Education is launching a reading contest for 7 to 12 year olds. (Press release.) The idea is to get kids hooked on reading for pleasure—a good intention to be sure.
[Schools Minister Nick] Gibb said: "Children should always have a book on the go. The difference in achievement between children who read for half an hour a day in their spare time and those who do not is huge – as much as a year’s education by the time they are 15."
(It’s worth noting that e-books are one of the easiest ways anyone can “always have a book on the go,” especially if it’s on a device like a smartphone or iPod Touch that they’re carrying in their pocket already!)
But critics charge that, instead of creating contests, the government should be devoting more resources to education and reevaluating the mandated phonics teaching process which may not be right for all students.
I remember participating in a reading contest when I was a kid—I read something like 104 books in a month to win first place—while I was in kindergarten. (Granted, most of them were little and golden, but still.) The love of books has been with me ever since, though I suspect the contest win was more likely an effect of a love that was there already than a cause of it.