When I was a child, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Two jobs that seemed endlessly glamorous were to be an air hostess for Aer Lingus (which seemed way above my world, literally!) or to be a librarian. I spent a huge amount of time at Cork City Library getting two books for my grandmother and two for myself. The joy of finding a new Nancy Drew Mystery or a Georgette Heyer for my grandmother still stays with me decades later. I have always been a book lover and I married an even more obsessive bibliophile. We have over 1,500 books and no sign of a kindle!
This upbringing also made me a great fan of libraries. I am ever thankful to Battersea Reference Library where I did all my studying for an Open University degree while that very same bibliophile stayed at home with two tiny children who were introduced to books in the delivery suite. I am now a trustee of our local library: Upper Norwood Library Hub and we are very keen to keep this library safe in a world where libraries are constantly under threat from cuts. For many, the library is the only lovely municipal space which welcomes everyone, and that is even before they come to enjoy books, activities, company and a cup of tea.
I am also a trustee of the BookTrust, the UK’s largest national children’s reading charity. The aim is to encourage the pleasure of reading. No reference to phonics, decoding or the contested views about how to teach reading – just pure wallowing in the enjoyment of reading books or having them read to you.
Every year BookTrust provides 3.9 million children with £20m worth of books, resources and support through every local authority’s children’s centres, schools, libraries and health professionals to reach families who need books. Many families cannot afford books and the closure of libraries makes it harder. It is very depressing, especially when you consider the impact reading books has on a child’s literacy experience.
BookTrust also celebrates writers and encourages new authors through prizes and awards that celebrate writing from the UK and beyond, bringing new releases to a wider audience and getting readers to engage with different types of books and authors from a range of backgrounds. Read the most updated research as to how we get more representation among authors from the wider communities.
So, I was very chuffed to be able to have a chat with Diana Gerald, the CEO of BookTrust and enjoy hearing about her this great reading charity and the plans to expand more services for children in need.
Listen and start your journey to becoming a fully fledged bookworm.