Gareth from the Office: For the love of books

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I HAVE always loved reading. There is sometimes nothing better than sitting down to a good book.

So why is it that large numbers of children are just not learning to love books?

A recent survey carried out by reading charity Booktrust found that 96 per cent of children across the country enjoyed reading books, but one in 10 houses had 10 or fewer books in it.

Which is why I find it such a travesty that libraries across the city are even being considered for closure. I owe a lot of my early development at school not only to my family for encouraging me to read but to Newport Pagnell library, where I used to go regularly on a Sunday.

Generations of children have grown up listening to bedtime stories courtesy of their parents and it is, parents of course, who encourage their offspring to continue to read in the future.

And I believe it is the start you get at home that sets you on the right path at school. If parents are encouraging and helpful with homework then children will build up confidence which will hopefully have a knock-on-effect in the classroom.

Unfortunately though some pupils never take to school, no matter how encouraging parents may be. I knew a lot of children whose parents were wonderful people yet their attitude to school would suggest they were raised by a Bond villain.

We still have dozens of tomes lining the bookshelves at home. And while I learned a lot at school there were not many nights when I would sit down with a book and relax. It was either homework, football or every parent’s nightmare, television.

But now I’m a bit more grown up, other things relax me after a hard day’s work. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of things that any regular 25-year-old does when I’m relaxing. I like football, I’m a member of a gym and of course, as mentioned previously, I like a good night out, but they don’t always relax the mind and help you switch off, in the same way as a book.

Education is so important and exam pass rates are improving year on year. Detractors, however, will argue it’s because tests are getting easier. But maybe it’s worth considering it’s because more people are taking the time to read to their young children and they’re growing up smarter. Last year the A-level pass rate stood at a staggering 97.6 per cent across the country and who’s to say it won’t get even higher.

Whatever it is parents, you need to keep doing it. Who knows, that story you read them every night could eventually lead them along the path to greatness.