Support the Library!

512px-Wpm02_05Recently, the British government put forward a new drive, via the Department of Education, to get more 7-9 year olds to use their local libraries and “get into the library habit early.”

In an age when the majority of children have access to tablets, computers, smart phones and other mobile devices, games are always accessible and are frequently favoured over sitting down and reading a book.

With many libraries closing down due to a lack of funding, and many others having their opening hours cut to the extent that they are not open outside of school hours, geographical location and time could seriously prohibit the Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s goal: “No matter where they live or what their background, every single child in this country deserves the opportunity to read, read widely and read well – it’s a simple matter of social justice.”

While Mrs Morgan’s aim to “make our young people the most literate in Europe” is laudable, the practicality of getting to a library or young people’s book club is not always great. Of course every child should have access to a library, as a love of books and reading increases vocabulary, the ability to spell well and general knowledge. It also, of course, widens the imagination.

Many libraries do continue to provide storytelling, singing and craft sessions for children of all ages, and the quality of children’s books on offer improves all the time, so if you have a local library, why not go and see what’s on offer?

However, if you are unable to get to a public library but love to read, there are ways you can still read more books without having to buy them.

1. Use your school library if it has one.

2. Start a book swap scheme with your friends.

3. Set up your own book club to share your books and talk about books you love.

Statistics consistently prove that children who are well read perform better at school in all subjects, not just English, and continue into Higher Education with far stronger grades than those who don’t. So what are you waiting for? Go and pick up a book!

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Dr Kathryn Bates is a graduate of archaeology and history. She has excavated across the world as an archaeologist, and tutored medieval history at Leicester University. She joined the administrative team at Oxford Open Learning twelve years ago. Alongside her distance learning work, Dr Bates is a bestselling novelist, and an itinerant creative writing tutor for primary school children.

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