Give every child a library ticket
Children’s author Michael Rosen makes a simple suggestion, in a letter to UK Education Secretary Damien Hinds. Reading for pleasure, he argues, has a direct impact on literacy, numeracy and IT skills, and would be facilitated with a right of every child to a library ticket. Exposure to books, as countless studies reveal, provides a massive boost to a child’s ability to thrive at school and to feel confident when entering the labour market.
Rosen then makes a not-so-subtle dig at the government’s lack of action:
“Despite the Ofsted report [calling for every school to develop a reading for enjoyment policy], the government did almost nothing. No provision was put in place “for all”… In my experience, nothing with a universal reach happens unless there is leadership and money from government. Instead what do we have? Reading: the Next Steps [an Education Department publication] contains a handful of clauses. The most laughable of these says: “The government would like all children to be active members of a public library and we are asking all schools to arrange library membership for all year 3 pupils”.
Haven’t you and your minister Nick Gibb noticed: lately the library service has been decimated? Then, with what’s left of libraries, instead of putting a library ticket into every child’s hand, you say limply “we are asking …”.
Clearly, the solution is there, but the government is unwilling to break with its ideological commitment to austerity in order to fund it.