This blog is going to read heavily of my blowing my own trumpet, but it’s feeling like a pretty big bloody trumpet so I wanted to blow it quite loudly, and the Internet is looking like it would appreciate some sweet trumpet based sounds today…
In November, I started a reading challenge at work, which I’m not going to talk about, needless to say one of the girl’s on it joined saying she would read four books as it was a good excuse to read the Twilight Saga. Inwardly, I groaned a bit, I’m going to be honest, but hell it’s reading for pleasure, right, onwards and upwards.
So yeah, she read Twilight, and Eclipse. And then we didn’t have New Moon in, but she wanted to read something else…
…so I recommended The Help by Kathryn Stockett, which I’d read a couple of summers ago and enjoyed. I knew the film was out, and was planning on going to see it, and she was going with her mum so it all worked out pretty well.
She LOVED it, and it made her cry. We had this really long chat about the themes within it, which was fascinating as we came from totally different walks of life and she got a totally different aspect on it to me. She wanted to read ‘something like it, really sad’, and I recommended My Sister’s Keeper, again because I know she’d seen the film, and she was keen.
She loved that as well, but said ‘it wasn’t as good to read as The Help’. She was appreciating the way that the language use was different, that the structure and the pace of The Help was more satisfying to read. So I had a little think and gave her Beloved by Toni Morrison.
Toni Morrison has won a Pulitzer Prize. And a Nobel Prize. Beloved was the New York Times Book Review best book of the past twenty five years. And this girl loved it. Loved it. Came in demanding more books like it. Because the story was really sad, and relatable, and she understood it.
So I lent her Push by Sapphire, more commonly known as Precious, the film that made everyone weep in 2009 and won a bunch of Oscars.
I’ve just had a twenty minute conversation was a sixteen year old about lyrical writing, and how emotion can be conveyed though descriptive prose. She doesn’t have a GCSE in English and Twilight was the first book she’d ever read all the way through on her own bat.
And this is why having a library in a school, staffed by someone who knows about books, who cares about books and is confident in recommending books, also know as a librarian, is so incredibly important. How many children are there not reading who haven’t ever had a conversation with an adult about books? How many more times must we say this! The reason that the literacy levels in this country are so shocking is because people do not have the skills to pass down to promote reading and a love of reading to their children, and people who do love reading are not given the opportunity to talk to children about this unless they are terrifyingly middle class.
If every single secondary school had a decent library staffed by someone who knew what they were doing then at least these students would have to opportunity to talk about books, to know that it was OK to talk about books with adults, that it didn’t make you sad, or a geek. Imagine what that would do for young people, and for their reading.
This girl has gone from a non-reader to an avid one in four months because she finally goes to a place that has a library in it and for that alone I’m thankful. When are at least one of the main political parties going to wake up to what school libraries can do and support them in their manifestos?