Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Population, Protests and Pumpkins

Exactly one year ago today little Ruaridh FIndlay Thompson's birth was heralded on the front page of the Scotsman as 'Edinburgh's one in 7 billion'
 It had been calculated that it was the day the 7 billionth child was born on planet Earth. 

Today, on his first birthday, Ruaridh will be getting lots of lovely presents and among the toys will be books.  He already has a good library,(shared with his 3yr old sister) of board books and flap books, audio books and beautifully illustrated picture books.

Ruaridh likes to make Brrrumh! noises to the cars in his books, he loves the tactile 'This is not my...'  series of books where each page has shiny, soft or bumpy aspects to each page, soft ears on a monkey or bumpy ridges on a tractor's engine. In fact he likes these so much that he touches the images on other picture books to see if they will feel different to the smooth surface of the printed book.

One of the great things about writing for children is that we have a new audience being born every day.   That means favourite books have another chance to delight a new audience, and  for the children there are also so many wonderful  books to discover.   If you are interested in Picture Books have a look at Picturebook Den another collaborative blog by members of the SAS (Scattered Authors Society).

Another place Ruaridh likes to go with his little sister is their local library, to listen to stories and borrow books.  When he goes to school it would be great to think that this encouragement to read a wide variety of books, that he is getting from home, will be reinforced in school by the school having a good and well stocked library and a librarian. 
Particularly when he gets to senior school, when a lot of children are no longer going to the library with their parents and reading can sometimes be thought of as something you HAVE to do at school, rather than a pleasure.
This is where school librarians come into their own.

Lobby for School Libraries - Scotland
Last weekend I attended the Lobby for School Libraries- Scotland,  at the Scottish Parliament.
I blogged about this a few weeks ago on ABBA .
Scottish authors Julie Bertagna, Jonathan Meres, Keith Gray, Debi Gliori, Anne Marie Allan and Sally J Collins  were there to support the lobby, many others  including Theresa Breslin (who sent a message from Russia) sent messages of support for libraries and librarians. In England there was great support from authors and librarians for the lobby in London on Monday.

In discussions about schools and librarians someone said they felt that English teachers in high schools do not read much or any young adult or teenage books, themselves. Obviously some teachers do and are great champions of books, but in my experience it is usually the school librarian, the person with all that enthusiasm, knowledge and willingness and time to engage with the children outside the classroom and exam pressures, who will manage to find the right book for the right child. 
Linda Strachan, Iain Gray MSP and Duncan Wright -School Librarian of the Year 2010
But that is not possible if they have no budget to buy new books or organise author visits or pupil participation in book related events.  If school budgets are cut or the money for books, libraries and librarians is not ring-fenced - in some schools libraries and librarians will not be considered a priority-
 which eems strange in a time when literacy problems seem to abound and engagement with books for sheer enjoyment is a sure way to encourage reluctant readers. 


Hopefully by the time little Ruaridh gets to senior school this will not be a problem!  For today he is blissfully unaware of all this and will no doubt have a lovely time with his little sister, enjoying his 1st birthday and his pumpkin birthday cake!


Penny Dolan said...

Hugely important points here, and given a context through the very real person of your charming young grandson. Happy birthday, Ruaridh, and happy reading, however old you grow.

Hooray for those School Library lobbyists too. Well done!

adele said...

Lovely! And happy birthday!

Joan Lennon said...

Here's hoping the lobbyists are listened to, and well done for attending even when feeling poorly!

Sarah Taylor-Fergusson said...

Happy Birthday Ruaridh! (What a lovely name.) Yes, yes and yes. Going to the library is one of my two's very favourite things. I, too, hope that will continue.