Providing, as ever, a safe haven for the assorted freaks and geeks left feeling ostracised by this summer’s patriotically charged displays of physical activity and being outside, Britain’s libraries have this week launched an Olympics-themed reading scheme for primary aged schoolchildren, thereby letting those kids who keep insisting the most important muscle is the brain off the hook from races and shot putt and jousting and such. (DISCLAIMER: I might have been one of those kids. Jousting’s still a thing, right?)
Clearly hoping to attract less frequent readers – those whose best line of defence isn’t the biting wit they’ve learned from reading the work of Gore Vidal, or whoever – the scheme rewards those four to eleven year olds who manage to read six books of their choosing from their local library between now and September with a certificate and/or Olympic style medal saying as much, as well as a sticker along the way for each book completed. Six kids’ books in six weeks? Pfft. Easy. I could probably do that in, like, four and a half weeks. As long as they had at least some pictures, I mean. And I had the whole time off school.
The scheme – run by charity The Reading Agency – was launched by Children’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, and has the pledged support of more than twenty other children’s authors, including the heavy-hitting likes of Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo, Michael Rosen and Jacqueline Wilson.
The Reading Agency’s chief executive, Miranda McKearney, said of the scheme: ‘We must not deny a single child the library’s help – children who use libriares are twice as likely to be above average readers. No home library can ever provide the rich reading support on offer in public libraries. Let’s make this summer one about building a fairer society by introducing every family to libraries’ vibrant, motivating support to help turn children into readers for life.’
Which I’m sure is a notion your local Tory or Lib Dem MP will be only too happy to talk over with you at all those Olympics parties you’ll no doubt be attending over the coming weeks. Maybe you can read them Julia Donaldson’s poem on the subject.
He was chief hack and music editor of webzine Brazen from 2006 to 2010, and hosted Left of the Dial on Subcity Radio from 2008 to 2011.
He can be heard semi-regularly on the podcast of Scottish cultural blog Scots Whay Hae ('20th best website in Scotland!' - The List), and in 2011 founded Seen Your Video, a film and music podcast and blog based in Glasgow. He has a Masters degree in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow that will never have any practical application. You are on a hiding to nothing if you follow him on Twitter expecting any kind of hot publishing scoop.