i was going to post more about our autumn holidays but this article caught my attention yesterday!
It is an IMPORTANT article so i’m highlighting it today. It is a fairly long article but please do read it:
Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming | Books | theguardian.com.
Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.
That is so true! When i read, i am lost in that world of words; that make-up world where anything can happen. And when i come out of it, i am refreshed to face our reality in the real world and sometimes even challenged to try to change it for the better in my small tiny way. Reading gives me understanding, helps me view the world from the perspective of others (the characters), teaches me empathy, guides me in evaluating what certain actions could mean. Am i exaggerating? No, it is what reading does for me. And i think that the children of today need to know that about reading. It is not boring, it is alive and we can learn so much, even from fairy tales. After all, fairy tales were the moral teachers of old.
To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you’re on the road to reading everything.
That is exactly how i felt as a child who discovered the pleasure of words on pages bound together, telling a story. And now i do read everything! From fiction to medical reports, to news (less now as there is never good news anymore), to biography and much more.
The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.
Another true statement. My boy reads and this Autumn holiday he has truly shown how much he loves to read. On his own accord, he picked up a series of books given to us by his Godmother (previously for her son) and started reading and saying how much he likes them and he finished all 3 books (we only have 3 in that series) in 4 days! He has also completed other books during these past three weeks. (Insert proud mummy smile here!)
i believe my son reads so much now because he has always seen mummy or daddy with a book or reading online all the time. And we have read to him since he was a tiny babe. We still do now.
i love the way Neil Gaiman talks about fiction:
Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.
And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.
And i LOVE libraries! i could be in one for weeks if they allow food/drink in there – hahhaaa 😉 i love the smell of a library, old books and new books all mixed together. People quietly enjoying the written word.
are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.
Education never stops – as long as we keep reading. i know that cos everyday i’m learning more as i read more.
A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it.
Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.
i was very much sadden when one of my favourite libraries in my home country was closed down to make way for an expressway! That library had so much character, so much history…
And i agree with him – we have obligations:
I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.
We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.
We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.
We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.
We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.
Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I’m going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It’s this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.
And of course, the quote from Albert Einstein is such an amazing one!
Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.
So read on! And if you are a writer, write on! And for everyone, dream on!
4 Replies to “Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming…”
What an awesome article. Thanks for sharing. I agree with the obligations we have to read, support libraries and the use of good language.
You are welcome! I also like what he says about the responsibility writers have. ..
My mum recently told me that she read – somewhere… – that reading aloud to your children continues to have positive benefits right up until they’re 16! Suits me as I love reading aloud. 🙂
Wonderful! I look forward to continuing our reading aloud sessions 😉