Jaden's story - our BBC Radio 4 appeal

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Our BBC Radio 4 appeal is airing on 12 August at 7.55am and 9.35pm, voiced by broadcaster Gaby Roslin. Could you help us change a child’s life story?

Some of our favourite moments as parents are reading stories with our children. But some children have never been read a bedtime story.

Children like Jaden who lives with his mum, Ashley, in a one-bedroom flat in London. Illiteracy is widespread in their community but not talked about, so Ashley has asked us not to use their real names.

Ashley can’t read. Like her son, she grew up in poverty, her parents couldn’t read, there were no books in the house. Ashley never understood how important books were for Jaden’s future.

When Jaden started nursery, his language skills were so underdeveloped that he was put on the register for Special Educational Needs.

He literally didn’t have the words.

Every year, 150,000 of the UK’s poorest children start school with language skills a year and a half behind their peers; a gap most will never recover from. They’ll struggle at school and then with finding a job. They’ll be more likely to turn to crime and have poorer health and shorter lives. When they become parents, they won’t have the skills to support their own children’s learning.

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But this cycle can be broken, and that’s why I’m asking for your support.

The National Literacy Trust trained Jaden’s nursery teachers to teach Ashley new ways of sharing stories with her son without having to read the words in a book. She learnt to talk with Jaden about what’s happening in the pictures, use toys as props and sing songs together, which transformed his verbal skills. These activities might seem simple to us, but they were impossible for Ashley before the charity’s support.

Ashley’s confidence has soared and Jaden is flourishing. His literacy skills have now overtaken many of the children he once lagged behind.

Any amount you can give will help us change the life stories of many children like Jaden. With £50 the charity can train one nursery teacher to help a parent like Ashley develop the skills and confidence to give their child the words to escape poverty.