Recently we went to have a look at the brand new Birmingham library. It’s a pretty amazing building and what was really amazing was that we had to wait in a queue to get in, I don’t think you have that in most libraries. It is designed to look like a great big pile of presents. When I was talking about why it was that shape I told the girls I thought it was because books are the best present you can possibly get.
If I could grant my girls one wish it would be to love reading. It is honestly the greatest gift I can give them. I couldn’t imagine a world without reading. It transforms our petty existence into something beautiful. If you can read you can travel anywhere, be anyone, learn anything. The entire sum of human knowledge and experience is at your fingertips.
Hyperbole aside, reading is fun. The one thing I miss now I’m a parent is spending a whole day reading. To read until my eyes are sore and my body is numb. Reading seems like the biggest luxury to me now. I am just getting to the point where I can read more than a chapter at bedtime without falling asleep and it is wonderful to get so immersed in another world again. Although I do regret it in the morning when I have stayed up too late, just reading one more chapter. Having just finished an epic series of books I feel totally bereft, the characters become like friends and family and for a moment it feels like a bereavement to let them go. Of course there is always the temptation to start reading again from the beginning.
Books have always been important to me. I remember the journey of learning to read with great fondness. The excitement of moving up a level. The joy of finally being able to read chapter books on my own. The thrill of illicitly reading the next chapter of your bedtime story under the covers when you should be asleep. I loved reading so much that I once nearly burned the house down because I covered up the bedside lamp so I could carry on reading in secret. My mother likes to remind me of the fact that the first time I was allowed to pack for myself I filled my suitcase with books and forgot to pack a change of knickers. OK this may have happened more than once.
With the girls we have read to them every night since they were born. They demand three books and if they don’t get it then they will not go to sleep. They also listen to story CD’s as I did when i was little. i think I know the words of Dogger by heart we have listened to it so many times recently. I like to think of those lovely words seeping into their dreams as they sleep.
I am not very precious that children should just read an actual book. Magazines, ebooks and book apps are all just as good. Whatever they enjoy and want to read. It all counts.
We do have rather a lot of books in the house, but I think an easy familiarity with them is what makes children want to read. They copy everything adults do so it is natural if they see the adults in their life as readers then they will want to be readers themselves. The only problem with this is that we end up with books everywhere.
Rose’s favourite fairytale character is Belle from Beauty and the Beast. She insists on carrying around a book from my bookshelves (as long as it doesn’t have any pictures as only Gaston likes books with pictures.
Learning to read can be a struggle. There is so much to remember. That desire to read has to be there to carry you through. I would love to give every child the same joy I have reading.
The reason I have written this today is to show my support for the Born to Read campaign from Save The Children. I know my girls are lucky. I am pretty committed to making them readers. Having a teacher for a mother means they don’t really get a choice in the matter. However this is not the case for every child.
Save the Children are taking action by joining forces with the Beanstalk charity to try and give every child a fair chance because:
- Many poor children in the UK today start school already behind their better-off peers – through no fault of their own.
- Last year, 1 in 4 poor children left primary school without basic skills in reading and writing.
- The years between 4 and 7 are a crucial opportunity for children who started behind to catch up. Reading is one of the keys to unlocking a child’s potential.
- If they don’t get the help they need before they leave primary school, another generation of children will face lifelong penalties for being born poor. No child should be left behind.
What can you do to help? Become a Change Maker: Save the Children aims to recruit 20,000 ‘change makers’ over the next 4 years who will help us reach children in their first chapters of life, giving them a better chance of fulfilling their potential.
If you love reading, if you believe in reading and if you believe in the fact that every child deserves the same start in life, take action now and sign up!
Make sure you visit the amazing blog Thinly Spread for more about the campaign.
You can read posts by these other bloggers supporting Save the Children today: