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Michael Morpurgo backs call to ensure poorer children have access to books

Michael Morpurgo backs call to ensure poorer children have access to books

According to author Michael Morpurgo, children who are deprived of reading for enjoyment are being denied a lifelong passion due to governments that fail to recognize the value of fostering a love for literature at a young age.

Morpurgo and a coalition of leading authors, including Julia Donaldson, Malorie Blackman and Cressida Cowell, are backing a call by BookTrust to ensure that every child from a low-income family has access to books and reading activities by investing in a programme across schools and nurseries.

The author, Morpurgo, known for writing beloved classics like War Horse and The Butterfly Lion, emphasized the importance of providing every child in this country with access to books in order to foster their physical, intellectual, and emotional growth. He stated that this can only be achieved by ensuring that books are available and shared at an early age.

According to Morpurgo, there is a disparity in opportunities in the UK for children who have access to books. Their lives and education are greatly enhanced, while those from underprivileged backgrounds do not have the same benefits.

Morpurgo stated that any government that fails to acknowledge this is essentially ignorant.

“Our society is greatly divided, especially with the current high number of individuals living in poverty. These individuals, particularly children, are not receiving the necessary support and resources to appreciate and pass on the value of our literature, which is one of our country’s greatest assets derived from our unique language.”

These children are also the ones who are most likely to struggle with mental health problems, low self-esteem, and issues within their family. They are also the ones who would benefit the most from discovering the path to fulfillment and success that reading books can provide.

According to BookTrust’s research, only 50% of children from low-income families between the ages of one and two are read to daily.

Morpurgo is one of the 12 past and present children’s laureates who have signed the BookTrust’s letter to Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, as well as to the first ministers and opposition leaders in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Morpurgo stated that the closure of libraries by local authorities had a significant impact on underprivileged families, as it limited their access to important resources such as books.

He stated that we must never, under any circumstances, shut down a library in this nation.

I reside in central Devon, where the nearest library is quite a distance away. It takes about 35 minutes to drive there, assuming you have a car. However, many people in the area do not have access to a car. There is also no local bookstore, even for those who can afford it. The library serves as the only means for people to access reading materials.

Morpurgo urged the government to give schools additional time to promote reading for enjoyment, rather than solely as a means to succeed on exams.

“We must move away from the notion that English literature and books are solely for academic study. They are meant to be appreciated and integrated into your life, not simply studied and tested on,” stated Morpurgo.

Governments can play a role in addressing this issue. Teachers often express frustration with the lack of space in the curriculum for activities like storytelling and reading.

Whenever I visit schools, I consistently hear teachers express the importance of storytelling. However, they often mention that there isn’t enough time for it. I believe the government should prioritize and allocate time for storytelling, acknowledging its value not only for education but also for personal growth and development, especially for young children.

Morpurgo stated that the request made by BookTrust and Scottish Book Trust was relevant to all of the United Kingdom’s national borders.

As members of the same society, it is crucial for the preservation of democracy in our respective countries that we have a grasp on what is truthful. Interestingly, literature holds a significant amount of truth – though it may seem improbable, fiction is actually a powerful means of uncovering truth.

“What lessons can be gleaned from the works of Shakespeare and Dickens? These literary masterpieces shed light on the dark depths of human nature and the complexities of the human experience. It is crucial for children to be exposed to these themes at a young age so that they can truly understand and appreciate them, rather than just seeing them as another subject to study in school.”

Source: theguardian.com