Books fire the imagination and force us to slow down

Children at Newtown Primary School in Gosport had a Roald Dahl-themed day to celebrate the author's 100th birthday for World Book Day.  Pictured are Chloe Taylor (6) as an Oompa Loompa and Roman Neve (8) as Fantastic Mr Fox
Children at Newtown Primary School in Gosport had a Roald Dahl-themed day to celebrate the author's 100th birthday for World Book Day. Pictured are Chloe Taylor (6) as an Oompa Loompa and Roman Neve (8) as Fantastic Mr Fox
If you're going to do a job, do it properly... and not just before Christmas

CHERYL GIBBS: Decorating (badly) and Christmas do not mix

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I’m not normally one for National Such-And-Such Week or Global XYZ Day.

But I am prepared to make an exception when it comes to World Book Day.

Our attention spans are decreasing and we’re often watching the telly with a phone or tablet in hand, trying to do two or more things at once and not doing either very well as a result

To all those parents who put time, effort and thought into helping their little ones go to school dressed as their favourite literary characters, I salute you.

My Facebook feed was full of pictures from my chums, clearly proud of their children (and maybe their own costume skills) as they trotted off to class.

But why should they get so involved? What’s the point?

I’m a big fan of reading.

A good friend of mine used to say I was born with a book in my hand and, when I recently left a job, I was given the Tudor-based Wolf Hall books as a leaving gift.

I honestly couldn’t have had a better present.

To me, books are a way to fire the imagination, expand our vocabulary, learn how to write, and find out about the world.

They contribute directly to literacy levels – levels that in deprived areas such as central Portsmouth need a lot of attention.

We hear a lot these days about how the immediacy of our lives means we’ve forgotten how to be patient.

Our attention spans are decreasing and we’re often watching the telly with a phone or tablet in hand, trying to do two or more things at once and not doing either very well as a result.

Books cannot be read while doing anything else, apart from maybe having a bath or drinking a glass of wine or a cuppa.

And perhaps that’s another magical benefit of books – they force us to slow down, to concentrate and remember how to be patient.

World Book Day, as well as encouraging youngsters to dress up as their favourite characters, also sends out book tokens so everyone can get a new book.

If just being able to have one book of their own can help a child fall in love with reading, then it’s well worth it.

And I hope they’re encouraged to pursue that love of words, even if the rest of their families don’t tend to be big readers.