On Saturday there was another day of action and support for my local library. My daughter and her friend painted a banner and placards for the occasion. The banner bore the slogan 'Keep Our Library How It Is'. This was suggested by my daughter, an unprompted expression of the comfort and security children gain from familiarity and routine, and a measure of how much the library has become part of the landscape, the fabric of her everyday life. My daughter and her friend, along with many other children locally, have been taken to the library since they were babies. They know the librarians by name and are happy and confident selecting books, joining in the craft activities on a Sunday or just hanging out together.
Suffolk Library Services run a wide range of activities for children and their carers, some in conjunction with the Book Start Trust (recently also under threat from the government). For those children who don't get the chance to experience the joy of a library when they are very small there are many other opportunities to become acquainted with all that is on offer. At my daughter's school a visit to our local library takes place in Year 1- a clear indication of how much the library is valued by the school. Before the summer holiday last year one of the librarians visited the school to talk to all the children about the summer reading challenge. This is an opportunity for children to read six books of their own choice over the course of the summer holiday and to talk about the books with an interested and encouraging adult. The summer reading challenge is staffed by volunteers and the scheme has its own dedicated website. Such an imaginative and integrated approach to supporting children whilst they learn to read and develop a reading habit is to be celebrated. It mystifies me why Suffolk County Council, rather than slashing funding, is not shouting from the rooftops about Suffolk's fantastic library service. It should be a source of civic pride, a badge of honour.
Outside the library on Saturday morning a number of us shared the memories of early childhood visits to the library with our parents, a habit developed in childhood that has stood us in good stead ever since.
And as for my daughter, this is a list of the books that she chose (and that we read to her over the course of one week) from Rosehill library on the previous day of action:
- The Scaredy Cat by Russell Punter
- The King & The Great Fire by Lynne Benton & Peter Cotrill
- The Story of Toliets, Telephones and Other Useful Inventions by Katie Daynes
- Florence Nightingale by Emma Fischel
- The Pet Shop by Alan Ahlberg and Andre Amstutz
- I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew by Dr Seuss
- Magic Bunny: Chocolate Wishes by Sue Bentley
- Magic Bunny: Dancing Days by Sue Bentley
- Magic Puppy: friendship Forever by Sue Bentley
- Rainbow Magic: Milly The River Fairy
- Skating School: Sapphire Skate Fun by Linda Chapman