Monday, 20 September 2010

Grabbing the ones in the middle

In any literate culture you will find people who love books. The bookworms are a given, across history and geography, and I bless them every day. They read, re-read, write passionate emails to their favourite authors and sometimes even fan fiction. They use libraries but books, new and secondhand, borrow recommended titles from friends and some of them review their favourites on blogs.

They may have learned to read early or late, through reading schemes, real books, or newspaper headlines (as I did). They are not bothered about whether the books come in paper or electronic form and might well own both.

This post is not about readers like them.

Then there are and always will be a whole group of people who, for whatever reason, don't read books. Some can't read but that's not usually the main reason. They will read newspapers and magazine perhaps but never a book. One is Victoria Beckham.

I'm not really talking about them either.

Then in the middle there is a huge third group who are not avid readers nor non-readers and those are the ones I want to get hold of and influence. Preferably while they are still children.

The world is so full of wonderful books and all it takes to get someone hooked on this huge lifelong pastime or passion is introducing them to the right book at the right time. Traditionally this has been done by parents, teachers and librarians. And for the last very many years by writers going into schools.

But libraries are closing, School Library Services are under threat and schools budgets are so tight that many author visits that might once have taken place will just not happen. What will happen to "the ones in the middle" then?


Helena Pielichaty said...

Excellent topic, Mary. I totally agree with you about this broad band of readers in the middle. What will happen to them? Who knows. Let's hope the libraries stay open despite everything and the good teachers keep teaching. As for author visits - well, that's a whole other ball game. We shall have to see if visits fall drastically.

catdownunder said...

Our state (South Australia) budget has just cut funding to libraries while providing $540m to upgrade one oval and increasing the overall money on sport - but not 'sport for all'. More people use libraries each week than attend a sports match and far more use libraries than actually play sport. We need a way of making government much more aware of the mental health value of libraries! I too wonder what will happen to the middle readers, indeed even some keen readers if books are less available. It will not be what they want but what is forced upon them.

Katherine Langrish said...

Very good point, Mary - I'm puzzled and saddened by the low value set on reading for pleasure in our education system.

Marjorie said...

What, indeed. It is very worrying...