The country is suffering bleak times, things are hard, apparently we are all ‘in this together’. Well, actually I don’t think we are, but that is probably another issue. However, the ConDem attack on the family and culture continues. This week I heard that BookTrust are to lose their funding; a Department for Education spokesman said: ‘We believe that homes should be places that inspire a love of books and reading.”
I agree with that sentiment, but not all children are provided with these sorts of homes, not all parents feel inspired by books or reading and not all children have access to endless books. So, you might say, a parent could put themselves out, go to the local library and get some books out for their child. Some parents can’t read, some feel that the library is not for them, there are all sorts of barriers to access and all sorts of reasons they might not go and visit. Library opening hours are also being slashed as funding cuts hit the sector hard, these will curtail my visiting no doubt, especially as the mobile libraries are to be cut. This was a lifeline to me when I was on maternity leave.
I think, again that this is a really poorly judged decision. It will hit those children and families who need the help and encouragement the most. We loved the packs that we got and still read those books over and over. They have a special quality that can only come with gifts, whats more though, the second pack we got contained crayons and paper for making marks. The basis of literacy. It reinforced how important it is to allow children to express themselves on paper. I know of some parents at playgroup who are horrified by the thought of giving their children crayons or paint in case they make a mess. If a health visitor or librarian gives them to you and explains the importance this can make a real fundamental difference to a child’s well being.
Cutting this funding is one thing, I understand that difficult decisions need to be made and that it is not a life or death benefit. However, when considered against cuts to funding of libraries, museums, schools and cultural outreach programmes it seems like we are going to be plunged backwards. I for one do not want my library, school or children’s book scheme sponsored by a particular publisher or other single sponsor even if they could find one. Which seems unlikely in these cash strapped times. This is like handing over the keys of a treasure chest to one fiendish villain who may suppress the rest. How do we know what influence they might wish to have over what was handed out to children, what books were stocked in the library, which books were used for teaching and which books were accessible?
In the past, museum exhibitions have been sponsored heavily by one sponsor and their editorial content has been influenced. For the most part, this does not happens nowadays, at the moment at least. I am more and more worried for culture in this country as each day passes. Yet again, the weakest in society suffer whilst the richest carry on as normal. They say they don’t want an elite of well educated, cultured wealthy individuals. However, actions speak louder than words.
If you want to write to your local MP about this or any other issue this is a good site http://www.writetothem.com/