'It's really never too early to share a book': Paul Howard-Jones to give BookTrust Annual Lecture

Published on: 20 November 2019 Author: Catriona Wightman

Neuroscientist and The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds expert Paul Howard-Jones will give the BookTrust Annual Lecture today.

BookTrust Annual Lecture 2019: Paul Howard-Jones

Parents who want to help their children with maths should read to them, educational neuroscientist Paul Howard-Jones will say today.

Speaking at the BookTrust Annual Lecture in London, Paul will share his knowledge on early childhood brain development and the role that books have played in the growth of children's intellect across the ages.

Paul - who stars as an expert on Channel 4's The Secret Life of 4 and 5 Year Olds - will explore the vital role of reading as a catalyst for civilisation and how it helps to rewire young minds right from the early years, providing a platform for adult wellbeing and success.

The Annual Lecture - which will be attended by an audience of publishers, illustrators and industry figures - will also explore the evolutionary science behind reading.

The power of reading

A father reading with a child

Illustration: Kate Alizadeh

'Reading allows access to a symbolic system of communication through which we can imagine and experience multiple worlds created by others,' Paul said.

'Reading with young children is not just about literacy, it readies the brain to interpret new concepts and new ways of thinking, including mathematics.'

He added: 'Children can begin to understand the value and concept of books by seeing adults experiencing books and having their attention drawn to books.

'This can start in the first two to three years of their lives - well before they themselves know how to read - but when their brains are at their most plastic and malleable. That's a great start - and it can develop into a resilient enthusiasm for books in their school and adult lives.

'Simply put, reading is perhaps the most important cultural tool we transmit to our children. It's the gateway to the greatest part of accumulated human experience and understanding.

'One of the best things we can do as parents is help them discover that gateway, by reading and experiencing the joy of a book with them. It's really never too early to share a book!'

Meanwhile, BookTrust's CEO Diana Gerald said the charity was 'thrilled' to have Paul deliver this year's annual Lecture as he is 'so enthusiastic and passionate about children's reading'.

'Each year we aim to bring exciting and culturally relevant speakers to the Lecture who not only provide insights to the people attending, but can also share their knowledge and expertise to provide useful tips and information for parents and carers at home,' she added.

After delivering his Lecture, Paul will announce the winner of this year's inaugural BookTrust Storytime Prize - an award created to celebrate the best book for sharing with little ones.

This is the fourth year that BookTrust's Annual Lecture has taken place, as Paul follows in the footsteps of Sir Michael Morpurgo, Lauren Child and Floella Benjamin.

More about the BookTrust Annual Lecture

Download the full press release

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