Malorie Blackman writes about libraries so pertinently in this article. I find it astonishing that we absolutely know the power reading gives to our children: opening up imagination, enhanced thinking skills, higher attainment, better life chances, a love of learning-need I go on? Yet we are closing the very places children and families have access to the wonder of books for FREE.
Over the past few weeks there has been much in the press about the impact learning to read and being an avid reader has on one's intelligence and achievement. But enjoying books reaches deeper emotionally too-it can gel families together in the sharing of something special and libraries provide access to all of these very special happenings.
In a very basic straw poll as a head I 've long thought there to be a decline in library visits amongst our children-I've seen less hands up in response to library use despite the great reading challenges run every summer. I know there are some statistics that dispute this fact locally which makes me think who is using the library? I suspect those that do have already got that love of reading. It is the number of families and therefore children who don't yet have that who are missing out on a treat.
I worked a lot with Traveller families in one of my previous schools and we arranged for the library bus to visit our school site. The children had never seen or been in such a thing before and could not believe their eyes when they peeped in. They were all thrilled but reluctant to remove the books from the shelf and leave the bus with them. The librarian practically had to push them back off with their choices! (she didn't actually do this so don't worry-all were safe!) They couldn't believe they could take 10 out at time and take them away with them to read. It is a pretty marvellous thing . I'm not sure how we can put a stop to the 'rot' that says it isn't.
The new National curriculum states the need for schools to develop a love of reading in their children and a READING CULTURE. Indeed there have been quite a few pounds spent on the phonics test and new phonics materials for schools recently. What about some links with local libraries to spread that reading culture? After all, primary school children spend more time at home with their families learning 'all the time' than they do in school. Children need to be immersed in a reading culture everywhere NOT just in school some of the time possibly with sparse choice of books to choose from (the decline of school libraries-that's a whole different blog!).
Remember when Matilda goes into the library for the first time and finds this wonderful haven and all those wonderful books.....even some by Darles Chickens!? Awe and wonder......That's what libraries can do.