Falling literacy levels bring new opportunities for the church to reach out to schools and communities.
In May, the Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy for 2016 reported a further fall in literacy attainment levels with Scotland’s school children. This is a worrying trend and something which appears to have many causal factors. One of the most significant is a child’s exposure to books at home and the time taken by parents or other adults to read with a child. The Survey reports that about a quarter of all P4 pupils said they almost never read with someone at home and 29% said they never or rarely played word association games. It is this gap that church volunteers are uniquely placed to be able to offer children and families the support needed to prioritise reading outside school hours.
Last year the All Souls group of churches in Fife began running after school children’s clubs using a new resource developed by the Scottish Bible Society.
Bibleworld Books are adapted from the Bible text, each storybook has bright, original illustrations and has accompanying resources carefully written to promote literacy and learning within the guidelines of the school curriculum in Scotland. The Fife pilot project set up two children’s book clubs, a fun-filled space where games, crafts and learning activities were all geared towards the story time, where the children sit in small groups, one volunteer with no more than two children, systematically working through the text together.
In embarking on the project the churches involved worked with the local primary schools from the start, promoting the groups to parents and families and ensuring everyone was involved in determining the best outcomes for the children. This was a valuable community project, drawing the three strands of family, church and school together and forming stronger relationships between all three.
The results of the Fife groups have been encouraging with parents reporting increased confidence in reading and development of social skills with their children. Likewise, church volunteers witnessing the Bible being used in this way have been equally encouraged, believing the time given to sitting with their group each week was worthwhile. “To hear the children read aloud of the things that God has done, the stories from the Gospels about Jesus and to help them relate the message of Scripture to their own lives has been transforming.”
All across the world, Bible Societies teach children and adults to read from the Bible, educating and preparing people with these skills for life and opening their hearts to God’s Word of salvation.
Find out more about Bibleworld Books by contacting Sandra Batt on 0131 347 9820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org