So please oh please, we beg, we pray, go throw your TV set away, and in its place you can install, a lovely bookcase on the wall.
This song by the Oompa-Loompas provided a perfect motivation for children across UK to participate in 'The Big Friendly Read', the summer reading challenge 2016. Now in its eighteenth year, with almost 600,000 books read so far, the challenge is a reading for pleasure initiative to encourage thousands of children across UK to cultivate an interest in reading and become devoted to it. This year's highly popular theme was Roald Dahl, in celebration of the hundredth birthday of the master story teller. The theme was also well coordinated with the release of the movie, 'BFG' on July 22, another of Dahl's absolutely delightful books.
Experiences at the local library
I made my four year old participate in the reading challenge. His excitement was palpable every time he picked a book from the children's section and collected a Sir Quentin Blake illustrated card in his folder. Upon completion of the challenge he was awarded a shiny gold medal and a certificate- a 'gloriumptious' (glorious and wonderful) moment as Dahl would say. My son was amongst the 4-7 years age group which had a completion rate of almost 30%, better than the other age groups amongst boys. However, the reading challenge was triumphed by girls. Early statistics for the reading challenge at our local Weston Favell Library reveal that 61% of the total starters and 66% of the finishers of the challenge were girls. An absolutely whoopsy wiffling* performance!
To inquire about the experiences of managing the summer reading challenge at our local library, Northampton, I had a chance to speak to Ms. Jill Buckley, Library Manager and Mr. Alan Boon, Designated Safeguarding Lead. 'Our library performed second best in the entire Northamptonshire County', Jill smiled. "We covered 14 schools in the area and spoke about the reading challenge and the different events that were hosted by the library for the event. I believe that our participation provided a real boost to the students to participate in this year's reading challenge", Alan proudly exclaimed.
Coming from Pakistan which has an almost negligible number of public libraries and facing a diminishing culture of reading, I was in awe of the system that promotes reading from such a young age. Institutions that promote a culture of learning and scholarship help build societies. Libraries play a crucial role as provider of resources to the young and adult alike, as community centres for diverse communities and as preservers of historical heritage. I wish that the Pakistani government follows the sagacious advice of Nobel laureate Malala Yousufzai that 'one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world' in letter and spirit and further the cause of education on a priority basis.
"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." Dr Seuss's golden words could not be truer. Journeying the magical world of Dahl one discovers six crucial elements of a well loved story. Reading makes children relive the mischief that George experienced in creating his marvellous medicine. Through reading one finds that any ordinary person can be a champion by doing the most extraordinary things. Reading makes us experience adventure like James had with the giant peach. Reading develops our vocabulary and perhaps even helps us create an interesting new langwitch like Dahl's gobblefunk. Reading helps us garner ideas for fabulous inventions like the creative Willy Wonka in his chocolate factory. And lastly, it is reading that makes our friendships magical like the one between Matilda and Miss Honey.