Today is World Books Day, and I thought it apt that I talk about books(as if I don’t do enough of that already) But then, this is something I can go on and on about
One of things I have loved about being in the UK is how reading is so entrenched in the collective psyche of the people here. Long back, husband and I were bemused that one of the major problems being discussed in the news was the fact that children are not reading as much as they used to. They were discussing that these days parents are too busy to read a bed time story to their children. Both of us were bemused because at that time, we were more used to news headlines about political parties and their antics.
I also loved the fact that I was not the only person with a book in public transport. I used to get weird looks in Bangalore when I would wait for a bus or try to read in a bus. I swear! Here, everybody has a book, it felt like heaven. The libraries here, I have said it often enough- are fabulous! They are well-stocked, well run and it is an absolute pleasure to go to a library.
After daughter was born, we got to know about ‘Bookstart‘. Children here receive Bookstart packs at two milestones of their lives – in the first year, and between 3 and 4 years – if I remember correctly. It is a great way of getting children used to books, and stories. Poohi had got it, and I remember being totally impressed. We had already bought books for her way before she got her first pack, but I still found it fascinating. The selection of books were so appropriate, and she loved the books! More than the actual books, what fascinated me was the commitment to ensure that every child had access to books. And I do agree that no baby is too young to hear stories from her parents.
Husband was sceptical when I told her silly stories, or read to her, when she was a tiny thing(she was only days old when I started). Today, however, he is as convinced as I am, that it makes a difference. I am not sure if it makes a difference academically - but I can see how much she loves books.
As she progressed through the stages of nursery, and big school, one thing I can see throughout is the emphasis on reading. It is an integral part of the curriculum. Their reading is assessed and the books that they read are upgraded, whenever the teachers feel that the child has moved to higher levels.
And at every stage, you would find measures to encourage the culture of books. Like the travelling book fair that I mentioned. The school has a benefit as well. Every book that we buy, the school ‘earns’ some free books – which is great, for state schools, which are dependent on government funding. Apart from that, it certainly encourages children to pick out books, and read. Like this voucher which entitles you to a £1 off your purchases, or get a special edition £1 book with it. So even families with lower incomes could use the voucher and get a book for the children..
This afternoon, daughter was super, super excited when I went to pick her up. She ran all the way to the hall which housed the fair. She did not get the book she wanted, but managed to pick up two other books.
And here’s the little bookworm, lost in the world of fairies.. And she did not get up from that sofa until she finished reading the whole book Two hours after we got back home, she was still engrossed in her books. That, of course, has me, beaming with happiness