There are myriad academic arguments for reading: it improves vocabulary and comprehension; we learn about the world; it allows us to communicate. These are all very worthy arguments. The most compelling argument for me, however, is the sheer enjoyment that can be found in a good book. We can only help children grow to become lifelong readers by helping them find enjoyment in their reading.
The most important part of a librarian’s job is Reader’s Advisory. This is when we help readers find the book, website or other source that they seek. There is a saying that the right book at the right time can make a world of difference. Finding the right book does not mean producing a list of books that ‘every 8-year-old should read.’ Not every child will like every book. Furthermore, there is no faster way to turn children off from reading than by forcing them to read books they have no interest in. Helping children (and adults) explore topics, characters, settings and themes that engage them can take time. Nevertheless, it is a vital component of the library service.
Recently, I was able to spend the evening with Grade 8 pupils in Ming House. We explored just some of the book genres available in the library, made lists of books we would like to read in the future and spent some time reading for pleasure. It was wonderful to see pupils find books in which they were interested.
The excitement on pupils’ faces as they discover their new favourite book never fails to brighten my day. I love seeing students rush to the library at break and lunch to pick up a book, finish a project or research a topic. Seeing parents reading to their nursery children after school reminds me of another quote: “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” – Emilie Buchwald
While the path to reading starts early, it is never too late to discover the satisfaction, inspiration or fascination that lay within a book.