By Dan Jarvis, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region
Books are wonderful. They provide you with knowledge and can take you to faraway places.
When I was a child some of my favourite authors were Roald Dahl and J.R.R Tolkien. I was transfixed by the magical stories they told and the wonderful pictures they painted with their words. This started a life-long love of reading, which remains with me today.
That is why I don’t for a second buy the notion that books are obsolete. As a previous Shadow Minister for Libraries I shared my passion with the younger generation; reading to children at libraries and at nurseries. The same is true in my own family, and I have fond memories of reading Julia Donaldson’s “The Gruffalo” to my kids.
Reading to children is important, but this doesn’t just have to be a book at bedtime. You can read anywhere and anything – magazines, road signs, leaflets – anything that encourages children to learn and enjoy reading is a good thing.
It’s often the case that women take the lead on reading with children. And whilst many men get involved in reading to kids too, the reality is there are also many who do not. It’s vital that children have male role models, so dads, grandads, uncles or brothers should all roll their sleeves up and get involved.
All too often it is easy to hand a child a mobile phone or iPad and let them watch videos or TV. That’s not wrong; but it’s not clear what the long-term consequences of too much screen time might be.
What we do know is that there are many benefits of reading to children from a young age. Reading to babies and toddlers can give them a head start, develop their language and literacy skills and prepare them for school life. It also helps with concentration and can assist to develop a child’s imagination and creativity. Getting children reading early, and also being physically active, is incredibly important. It develops a habit that will hopefully remain with them throughout their lives.
When I became Mayor of Sheffield City Region I made a commitment help ensure that all young people get the best start in life and are ready to start school. This means focusing on Early Years education and helping children build the right foundations for their educational life.
So, this National Book Day, I’d encourage people to take the time to reacquaint themselves with their favourite books. Or, even better – to help the younger generation ignite their own passion for reading and encourage them to find authors who will engage and inspire them.
Photo courtesy of https://edubirdie.com/