Sunday 13th September is Roald Dahl Day. Time to peg out the bunting, and dust off that paperback you’ve been meaning to read since my last blog on storytelling (A Tale for Today). Celebrated on his birthday every year, Roald Dahl Day is a great excuse for me to tell you how whoopsey-splunkers I think this man’s stories are and how passionately I feel about reading and writing.
Roald Dahl was never seen as particularly talented at school;
“I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended.” - Roald Dahl’s English teacher.
This is an inspiration to all you budding storytellers. His unsentimental dark humour and unexpected plot twists make him my number one. Whenever I am feeling a bit scrotty, Mr Dahl will always make me feel hopscotchy again.
But Words is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me
According to the BFG, “The matter with human beans, is that they is absolutely refusing to believe in anything unless they is actually seeing it right in front of their own schnozzles.” So here come the numbers.
Dahl is listed as one of the greatest British writers since 1945 and ranks amongst the world’s best-selling fiction authors with sales estimated at over 100 million.  In a UK survey entitled The Big Read, conducted by the BBC in order to find the “nation’s best loved novel” of all time, four of Dahl’s books were named in the Top 100, with only works by Dahl’s Chickens, sorry Charles Dickens and Terry Pratchett featuring more.  In 2013 Dahl beat J.K. Rowling and Beatrix Potter to the top spot as the best children’s author of all time. 
Ninety thousand more primary school children are achieving the expected standards in reading and writing than in 2010. (results out 27 August 2015) The statistics for the key stage 2 assessments taken in May 2015 by almost 580,000 pupils show 4 out of 5 pupils (80%) achieved the expected level 4 in reading and writing – up from just 6 in 10 (62%) in 2009 and the same percentage achieved the expected level in grammar, punctuation and spelling tests which is up 4 percentage points on last year. 
Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:
“A good grounding in reading, writing (and maths) sets a young child up for life – so I am delighted that 90,000 more children are starting secondary school with a firm grasp of the basics compared to just 5 years ago.”
This is encouraging news! Roald Dahl said “I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted.” He goes on to enthuse “Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.”
Feeling nice and jumbly
In a world often saturated with negativity, you shouldn’t need an excuse to delve into one of magic and imagination. Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not saying we should bury our heads and ignore individual and global problems; simply that escaping them once in a while, might just enable us to think practically about tackling them.
Besides, anyone who creates a character who puts her shot-putting skills to good use by throwing Amanda Thripp over a fence has to be respected.
“So, please, oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.” – Roald Dahl
References (all views are my own and are not necessarily representative of the companies / persons referenced)
 90,000 more pupils leaving primary with maths and literacy skills. From: Department of Education and Nick Gibb MP. First published: 27 August 2015. Part of: School and college qualifications and curriculum.
Other external links
http://bit.ly/1hxx5QN – Roald Dahl Teaching resources
http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/our_network/guide – literacy trust guide