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News: Books Boost Lives

22/05/2010

The ownership of as few as twenty books for children to read at home can significantly boost their life chances, according to research published this week.
This will not come as news to those of us who are bibliophiles, but then these research findings will not be read by those many parents who have scarcely a book in the house.
We know that it is the simple things that make the difference in people’s lives: clean water, dry shelter, the love of a parent (OK, carer) and so on.
When we were expecting our oldest, I heard a phone-in programme with the childbirth guru Rosemary Leach. A woman rang in to say that they had decorated the nursery and bought a hundred and one gadgets and geegaws…But, what had they forgotten? What else was needed? What was necessary for a good start in life?
Leach replied that – at the most basic level – you didn’t need to spend money to care for a new-born infant. That was to miss the point. The only thing you needed to do was to make sure that the baby was warm, clean, well-fed and felt loved.
You could do that by putting a folded blanket in an old drawer, if necessary, as many mums did in days gone by.
It doesn’t have to be complicated.
The same is true for the basics of education. For children to thrive with a love of learning, developing a questioning and creative mind, you don’t need degrees or advanced studies. You don’t even need a Diploma in Childcare. You need parents who are able to want their children to have more opportunity – to think and grow – than they themselves had.
This may mean joining a library. It may mean sitting and reading with them. It may mean turning off the footie on the box, this summer, and going outside to boot a ball with your boy…
It’s not that difficult… but it makes all the difference.

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One Comment
  1. We grown-ups should read more to children – before the art of reading is lost.

    Alexa Fleckenstein M.D., physician, author.

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