“During the war…” – The importance of the written word
By Debbie Mynott, Digital Ink Drop CIC
As you’ll no doubt know, this year marks the centenary of the Great War. As the nation gears up to commemorate 100 years since the outbreak of World War I, we here at Digital Ink Drop are no different.
Being a not-for-profit company dedicated to the development of literacy skills in children, naturally we’ve found ourselves thinking about reading and writing during the war, and just how important the written word was to people a century ago.
In February 2012, Florence Green, the world’s last surviving First World War veteran died peacefully in her sleep just two weeks before her 111th birthday. With her, Florence took the only first-hand stories of life during the Great War.
The world has come to rely on the written word to express how servicemen and women, families, tradespeople, civilians, everyone, felt during those times of intense conflict. War poetry by writers such as Wilfred Owen, whose poem Dulce et Decorum Est describes the anguish felt by soldiers during a gas attack, and novels by well-researched authors such as John Boyne (Stay Where You Are and Then Leave) and Damien Kelleher (Dog in No Man’s Land) explore the thoughts of those that remained at home and offer us insight into what life was really like 100 years ago.
Everyone that reads understands the importance of reading. The things we learn, feel and experience between the pages of a well written book cannot be underestimated. As part of our own remembrance this year, we’re embarking on a huge reading and writing project, set to help children understand the history of the Centenary. The Great War Read is a shared reading project, both on and offline for families, schools and libraries to take part in which will offer a literary insight into war themes, sharing knowledge and understanding via book extracts, creative writing activities and much more.
So far, the project has been backed by the aforementioned The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas author John Boyne and the Imperial War Museum. Publishing house Random House Children’s Books have also chosen to support the project, offering access to some excellent books that will really enhance the experience for everyone that gets involved. We are really excited, and hope you’ll get involved with the project too.
Keep in touch with us over on Facebook and Twitter to find out more as it happens. And until then, read. Read as much as you can. The Reading Agency says that “everything changes when you read”. Though everything is ever changing, it’s so important that in this, the centenary year of the Great War, we remember those who gave us the freedom to change anything in the first place.
Debbie Mynott is the Director of non-profit organisation Digital Ink Drop. Their project Wood of Words allows families to explore the magical world of children’s books via its library, school and family subscriptions. More than 700,000 children currently have access to the site.