Tag: reading

07 Jun 2016


Africa Writes is the Royal African Society’s annual literature festival. Celebrating its 5th year, Africa Writes 2016 brings together over 50 distinguished authors, poets, publishers and experts for a stimulating and inspiring three days. Every year Africa Writes showcases established and emerging talent from the African continent and its diaspora in what is now the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing taking place over an exciting summer weekend. The festival features book launches, readings, author appearances, panel discussions, youth and children’s workshop among other thought-provoking happenings and engaging activities.

Click here to find out more about the festival!



03 Jun 2016

Boys Who Live With Books ‘Earn More as Adults’

“A room without books is like a body without a soul,” words of Roman philosopher, Cicero.

New research has uncovered a strong correlation between the earnings of adults and whether they grew up surrounded by books as children.

Three economists at the University of Padua studied 6,000 men born in nine European countries and concluded that children with access to books could expect to earn materially more than those who grow up with few or no books.

They studied the period from 1920 to 1956, when school reforms saw the minimum school leaving age raised across Europe. They looked at whether, at the age of 10, a child lived in a house with fewer than 10 books, a shelf of books, a bookcase with up to 100 books, two bookcases, or more than two bookcases.

Over the period studied, the research, published in the Economic Journal, found that an additional year of education increased a man’s average lifetime earnings by 9%.

Men brought up in households with less than a shelf of books earned only 5% more as a result of the extra year’s education, compared with 21% more for those who had access to a lot of books. And those that had access to books were more likely to move to the better-earning opportunities in cities than those without books.

The men’s first job was also much more likely to be a white-collar job.

Books matter because they encourage children to read more and reading can have positive effects on school performance. A home filled with books indicates advantageous socio-economic conditions.  This may indicate that a home with books encourages cognitive and socio-emotional skills, which are important for economic success in life.

02 Mar 2016

“Some Ramblings on Reading…(and a few recommended titles)”

Anne-Marie Idowu: Some Ramblings on Reading…(and a few recommended titles)

Books are absolutely fabulous. One thing is for sure: they can never be replaced, no matter how far or fast technology advances.

For this year’s World Book Day, I have included some of my own recommended titles for kids, teens and adults below. These titles are not necessarily current bestsellers but they are great books (in my humble opinion) with stimulating material and unique lessons to learn.

Click here for: Recommended Titles

My medical/scientific background always makes me curious about things and their effects on us complex human beings. Amongst everything else, I have developed great interest in cognitive science and applied psychology; but most of all a passion for learning and all the processes it encompasses.


I truly believe that there is a major difference between believing something based on somebody else’s knowledge rather than one’s own knowledge (whether it is true or rational or not). That is why Milestones Methodology encourages the use of reflexive questioning in our lessons so that students are encouraged to come to their own conclusions. It can be quite tricky to separate the objective from the subjective but we try to create a healthy balance of the two.

I like to encourage my students to always initially explore the understanding of a topic because it lays the information down in the part of our brain responsible for higher cognitive functions and thinking. For example, I avoid making sweeping statements such as, “global warming is bad for the planet”. I help them to discover the information and encourage them to make their own conclusions.


That is not to say that I do not challenge them or pass on my own knowledge and opinions but I want them to be analytical and inquisitive from early on. I am not interested in developing passive kids that can regurgitate textbooks; I am here for the next generation of actively brilliant minds that create their own theories and challenge the beliefs of our society. It is always great to get kids to question you and not get irritated; if you really think about the questions they ask, it can teach you a vast number of things and help you open up your mind.


How does this relate to reading?

Well…scientifically, reading has a profoundly significant effect on how we think; it lays down the cognitive processing infrastructure that we use all day, every day, throughout our lives. Don’t worry that’s a topic for another day.


The amount of exposure to reading material also positively correlates with vocabulary growth. In fact, studies carried out by Dr Keith Stanovich et al. show that the amount of reading one does can predict vocabulary and reasoning abilities, independent of the education they’ve had.

We can testify to this. At Milestones we have had students from low performing State schools that have transformed their grades and learning progress across all subjects simply through our intensive engagement to reading programme.


An additional benefit is the development of critical thinking skills such as the ability to decontextualize. What I mean by that is the ability to stand aside from a media context and process it in an abstract manner. This is analogous to the non verbal reasoning tests kids sit these days for entrance exams and those aptitude tests some us had the pleasure of sitting when applying to law or medicine or competitive jobs in the financial world.


I guess my message is…do not underestimate the importance and effects of reading especially for those kids of ours that are still developing those incredible brains. Get them to read everything: recipe books and instruction manuals!