Stephen Fry and Sandi Toksvig joined by Crawley MP Henry Smith in calling on parents to improve literacy

Henry Smith MP has given his support to the Turn On The Subtitles campaign which seeks to improve literacy in young people.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 10:52 am

Henry said: “Especially in the 21st century, improving literacy rates is one of the best ways to help children get ahead in life.

“This is why I’m pleased to be working with Turn On The Subtitles to improve children’s reading skills in Crawley.

“Turn On The Subtitles offers an easy and simple way to improving the literacy of our children.”

Henry Smith MP has joined Stephen Fry in backing the Turn On The Subtitles campaign. Picture by Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/Getty Images for SeriousFun

The Turn On The Subtitles campaign has two main aims; to raise awareness amongst parents that turning on the subtitles for their children will improve their literacy, in many cases dramatically, and to encourage broadcasters and content providers to turn on the subtitles by default for TV programmes aimed exclusively at the six-to-ten age bracket.

This is less about age, rather the stage the child is at. As soon as they can decode basic phonemes they will see a benefit.

However, the real benefit starts when a child is a sufficiently competent reader that decoding is done subconsciously. In the UK and US this tends to be around the age of six to seven.

The challenge is then about speed, vocabulary, confidence and comprehension. Same Language Subtitles has been proven to be remarkably effective at improving these skills.

The campaign has garnered much attention nationwide with celebrity backers including Stephen Fry, Sir Lenny Henry, Sandi Toksvig, Phillip Schofield and Rachel Riley amongst those joining the call for more parents to embrace this idea.

Henry has written to local schools about this work, encouraging them to pass this idea on to parents.

More information and details on the research can be found at