Save Our Libraries Day, As Bedtime Reading Week Ends In Barnsley
Today is Save Our Libraries Day, a national event in protest against the threatened closure of many local libraries in the UK; and by a positive irony folk in Barnsley are having their very own Bedtime Reading Week which finishes also today, 5 February. What more evidence is needed that books and reading are valued everywhere?
It is easy to forget how important books are to the development of small children. There’s a ‘window of opportunity’ in just the very first few years of a child’s life which we all ignore at our peril…
The big plus with suitable books is that they can be shared anywhere, anytime by children and their parents and carers. Apart from helping their reading, sharing a bedtime story with a child promotes their motor skills, through learning to turn the pages, and their memory. It also improves their emotional and social development.
The wondrous reading widget
“You can imagine if someone technologically came up with a widget that would stimulate all aspects of a two-year-old’s development, everyone would want to buy it,” said Professor Barry Zuckerman, of the department of paediatrics at Boston University school of medicine, whose study was reported in The Guardian.
Availability is critical to children’s development; parents need proper material back-up to access resources. Libraries and books from Children’s Centres (also under threat) provide support for both children and the adults who care for them – and libraries are a safe place later on for children to study and do homework, if quiet space at home is at a premium.
Flourishing at five
The Millennium Cohort Study researchers have also reported that children read to every day at three are likely to be flourishing in a wide range of subjects by the age of five.
Is it really so hard to find ways to ensure all small children benefit from books? With sensible support from the Government the magic ‘widget for two-year-olds’ referred to by Prof Zuckerman (above) can surely be made available to everyone. Magic widgets for children’s development aren’t that easy to come by.
Strengthen provision for children, do not diminish it
By all means widen the scope of, perhaps even join up and align the service delivery of, our libraries, children’s centres, even post offices; but don’t brush these community hubs aside. The costs for every individual who loses out will be great; but the costs to society in the future will be greater still.
The campaign to save libraries continues, and we have World Book Day, celebrated in the UK on 3 March in 2011, and other events throughout the year such as national Bookstart Week (6-12 June, 2011) for children to learn about books and reading. World Book Day is a registered charity whose financing comes mainly from contributing publishers and booksellers.
We need Bookstart and libraries also to continue to serve our communities. Abandoning these facilities would be unforgiveable. The UK Government must commit seriously to do its part as well.