It is with immense disappointment that many of us all logged online to that stream of consciousness that is twitter to learn that the Department for Education, the body responsible for broadening the minds of our young and inspiring them to success has cut its funding to the English book gifting programmes (Bookstart, Booktime and Booked Up) by 100%. Which is a novel way of saying, they’ve scrapped the programme. Oh, and it only applies.. you guessed it.. to England.
Bookstart was established by the Booktrust in 1992 and has gifted an untold number of books to schools and parents over the last eighteen years. It was almost ritual to receive a token at school once a year and head on either to the school library to trade it in or to the local bookstore depending on its organization that year. I am not amongst the crowd crying out that this is the sign of the end days, as I believe the majority of parents can and should be investing in their own child’s future – charity stores often have cheap books and the library is both free and tends to have a collection of books they are disposing of.
However the fact that some parents are bone idle enough not to do this meant programmes such as Bookstart and its ilk were a way to encourage book reading in groups who weren’t surrounded at home by a general love of reading. Why do I think reading is important? Well because it is the reading of ideas. I believe strongly that the most important faculty of a child to nurture and encourage is their imagination. What this imagination, fueled at a young age, can turn itself towards as the child grows up is limitless. Ideas have no boundaries and a life totally of their own. For the considered cost of this programme I cannot see any justification for it being axed when our biggest performing companies are dodging billions in tax, and council services are wasting needless millions on branding. Where is the David Cameron’s fair society in that? I forgot, that was just a silly idea. And ideas have a price.
At least 1,000,000 adults who would not have normally picked up a book shall have the opportunity in 2011 on World Book Night as previously mentioned on here.
Shame about their kids.
Feel free to share your thoughts on the cancellation of the programme and the general state of book reading in the UK and abroad. If you live in America or Europe, do you have similar schemes? Have they been affected in the downturn?