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The Importance Of Literacy And Reading With And For Young Children

12/12/2016 16:22
Cathy Yeulet via Getty Images

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I've been writing children's books all my life. It's partly because I have a child inside me who needs entertaining, and partly because I want to help children to love reading. For I believe that a world filled with readers is a safer, happier world. Ignorance is dangerous.

When I was young, my brilliant mother ran a kindergarten. From her example I saw how important it is to harness children's potential early, for as the old adage goes, 'Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.'

I wrote a book called, 'Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism'. Over the front door of the library where Molly Moon goes a lot, there are the words, 'Knowledge Is Power.' I know that is true, and wish every town in the world had a library so that all children had access to books.

Molly is a ten-year old orphan, bullied and misunderstood. She finds a book on hypnotism at this library. She learns its lessons and hypnotizes the cruel people around her, and escapes from the horrible orphanage she's been locked up in, using her hypnotic eyes. The book is her magic carpet out of there.

For every child in the world, knowledge is power. Knowing things, being educated is the key to being able to harness ones power and so get a voice that is listened to. It is the key to prosperity. It is the key to deciphering what is really going on around us. With knowledge we can better invent, solve, create, make, maintain, fix, organise, philosophize, keep our minds healthy.

It is also the key to peace. When people are properly educated, they not only are educated to have the skills to survive, but they are also educated with ideas about tolerance, empathy and understanding.

Aristotle said, 'Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.' Good books for whatever age educate the heart. They show us how to think about things from another person's point of view. They deal with feelings, the good and the bad. The reader visits another's interior world and experiences their happiness and their pain and so learns empathy.

Beauty is an intellectual thing but to appreciate it properly the heart has to be educated. The same goes with humour. And how important humour is. What a grim place the world would be without the funny.

There are many ways to teach our children. There's good, old-fashioned one to one communication. Art, music, film, TV, computers all can teach. But there is something about reading, and reading a story that is special. The act of collaboration, of the reader having to imagine the visual side of the story, makes the read thing more owned and potent and seared onto the brain than something that is in another medium. Anything that encourages children to read is good.

Films adapted from books take children to the books. My book Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism has been made into a film is out on DVD in the UK now - I'm hoping it is one of many films to encourage children to read. Computer games, comics, the act of writing texts can make children more comfortable with the written word. So we must embrace all roads to books. - Books that feed the intellect and books that feed the heart.

Share books with children. I loved to be read to when I was little. I loved the worlds stories transported me to. Like meditation those stories lifted me out of myself and when I came back I had a better perspective on my world. I loved to be accompanied to that place with my dad or mum or another kind grown up. And so, with ease, the pleasure in reading was instilled in me then. I was hooked.

A badly educated society is a dangerous one. Ignorant people are easy to manipulate. If we want societies to live harmoniously alongside each other, our planet has to be populated by educated, energized, positive thinking, altruistic, tolerant, civilized, loving people. And so we must make sure everyone has access to knowledge, educate minds and hearts.

We must rear children to be readers. Not just for pleasure's sake but for the safety of us all. Like riding a bike, once you learn to love to read, you never forget. And life would be so much better a ride for all of us all if the world were full of readers.

I love the charity The Reading Agency. https://readingagency.org.uk/

Their mission is to get everyone reading.

Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism trailer: https://youtu.be/qKhqKQboTn0

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