Monday, 10 March 2014

For The Love Of Books - Damian Harvey

Happy World Book Day everyone!
Alright, alright, so it might not be the official World Book Day today - it might not even be World Book Day for you but it is for many people. This week, and probably for the next few weeks too, authors, illustrators, poets and storytellers will be hitting the road to share their love of the written word with children in schools and libraries all over the place. It's a wonderful thing.
Now don't get me wrong, I think that the WBD initiative is brilliant. The idea of setting aside one day a year when everyone can share their love of books. Children in many schools get to dress up as their favourite book character - superheroes and little princesses abound thanks to the supermarket's ready made costumes but more imaginative creations come to light too. Throughout the day pupils and teachers share their favourite books and the aforementioned visit from an author, illustrator, poet or storyteller can add a much needed boost to the general book excitement. 
Perhaps it's just me but the idea of a single book day does make me cringe slightly. One day isn't enough to generate that love of books amongst children that have little or no interest in books in their home environment. Sadly, I meet many children in school that really don't like reading - not surprising though as the whole learning to read business can be a very difficult and taxing one.
Recently I've been writing a series of little stories based on the lives of real people  - Columbus, Elizabeth I, Neil Armstrong  and others. The most recent book in the series is about William Caxton - not the inventor of the printing press but the man to first print books in the English language. Researching William Caxton really brought home the importance of the written word in particular. What he, and other printers did, changed people's lives forever. News, information and ideas could be shared quickly with many people. Caxton wasn't just a printer though - he was a businessman, a publisher, the first person to open a bookshop in England. He and others at the time brought about a real revolution of the word. Books suddenly became available to a much wider audience and now it's hard to imagine a world without books in it.   
Books are everywhere and anyone can get their hands on them so why not share a book today and everyday. And to help spread that love of books why not get involved with the excellent Patron of Reading scheme. A book isn't just for world book day - it's for everyday. 

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