Thursday, 20 January 2011

the love of reading

Do you have fond memories of spending hours with your nose between the pages of a book?  Were you fortunate enough to lose yourself in a time/place/land that wasn't the one you could see from your bedroom window?  Did you make friends there?  Laugh and cry with them, share their sorrows, joy and adventures?

Know what?  You were lucky, as was I.  I don't remember learning to read, but I know I loved reading from an early age.  I used to get off the bus at the library every day from the ages of eleven to thirteen, and take out two new novels every day.  I would read one of them as I walked the remaining mile or so home, then do my homework, and start to read for pleasure again.

When my daughter was very small I enrolled her in our local library.  She couldn't walk, but she could stand at the large boxes of "baby" books and pull out the ones she liked the look of.  I used to buy her Ladybird books, cheap and cheerful, from the age of about three months.  She loved the nursery rhymes, the repetition and the rhythmic qualities.

Only the very richest families can afford to buy all the books a child needs to lay their hands on.  Libraries fill the gap - new books to enjoy every day if they wish, or every week.  They can change their favourite authors as often as they change their favourite food - it doesn't cost anything.

And now our government is considering closing some of these wonderful resource centres.  What are they thinking of?  Oh,  yes, saving money - of course!  In an era when so many children leave school unable to read and write competently, wouldn't it be better to spend more money to make libraries vibrant, interesting spaces where children want to visit?

If you hook a child's attention early enough, you have them for life.  I life of literacy is infinitely more appealing than one bereft of the pleasures of reading.  If you can read, you can learn just about anything, whether for pleasure or out of necessity.  The increase in book clubs must surely be an indication that reading is still a valued pleasure.

So, if anyone asks you what you think about the idea of closing libraries, what will be your reaction?


  1. I'm trying to work out a way of having a viable ebook lending library... I'm sad that I can't really use libraries meaningfully any more!

  2. Like you I feel libraries should remain. It is not just for the books but the outing to get there. These days no one seems to go out, least of all the kids. all activities for kids seem to be dwindling. The adults need to get out there with the kids, making the time.


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