‘Everyone is a reader; some just haven’t found their favourite book yet.’ I don’t know who said that, it’s something I found a long time ago on the internet, but it is a quote that has always stayed with me.
Reading is quite a revolutionary thing to do. When we read we open our minds to other people’s ideas we are revolting. I’m not just talking about political ideas, I mean opening our minds to different perspectives in art, architecture, technology, education, design, cooking, gardening, religion…the list goes on. We learn from the past and dream of the future. We can agree or disagree with the author but we cannot be indifferent. Books are gateways to different worlds both real & imagined.
That is why it breaks my heart when kids tell me that they hate reading. Despite all of the reading initiatives that have been put in place over the years in schools, many children still hate to read. When I ask them why the most common answer is that the books are boring. The kids have a point; very often the age-appropriate books are boring! They are colour coded, they have been chosen to meet reading criteria designed by adults, in a way that much of the fun and curiosity has been engineered out of the choice of books.
This is why our libraries are so important. Barrack Obama said it best – “The moment that we persuade a child to cross that magic threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better. It’s an enormous force for good.”
We can be fooled into thinking that google can give us all the information that we need. It won’t! It will only show us the information that their algorithms best match with our search criteria. It will never replace libraries because in a library you can always find that book that you weren’t looking for! The one that piqued your interest just… because!
When the Covid restrictions allow, if you are lucky enough to have a local public library, then bring your reluctant reader to it and allow them to choose whatever book they please. Yes, perhaps it will be too advanced for them, or even too childish for them. The point is that they chose it for themselves – just because. Maybe it’s an instruction manual for a tractor, maybe it’s how to put on makeup like the Kardashians, maybe it’s a book on Minecraft, maybe it’s a fairy princess book. The content doesn’t matter. What matters is that it was interesting enough for your child to want to read it.
But the current covid restrictions need not impede our access to our libraries! Did you know that you can access thousands of books online for free, through the Library service? It is AMAZING. There is even a preview of the book available so that you can decide if you want to read it or not. I love that because I have often abandoned a book that failed to grab my interest from the beginning. If you have a reluctant reader, then borrow audio or graphic novels/ comics. I found one all about the ‘worst hurling team in the world & possibly outer space too’, called Fintan’s Fifteen. It would be ideal for a hurling or camóige obsessed 11–14-year-old.
The award-winning author James Patterson once said, “There is no such thing as a kid who hates reading; there are kids who love reading and kids who are reading the wrong books.” As a parent, we have very little control over what the reading programme in school is, but we are totally in control of reading for pleasure at home. Bring your children to your local physical or online library. Perhaps, this Easter, in addition to Easter eggs, you give them access to the Library.
Libraries have been around for so long now that we tend to take them for granted. They are an incredible FREE resource. There is something for everyone in a library but most of all, in the middle of the calm & quiet are the whispers of revolution.
Hummingbird Learning Centre, Adare and Nationwide online 087 2996054 hummingbirdlearning.com