Books Change Lives

It’s World Book Day on Thursday. All over the UK (and probably in a lot of other places,) parents are frantically gluing, sewing, crocheting or buying costumes. I decided to get organised this year and began planning Tom’s costume in January. He wanted to be Fantastic Mr Fox, so I started watching ears, tails and foppish jackets on eBay.

I don’t know many people with children, but the general consensus I get from parents in the virtual world is that World Book Day is either an exciting challenge or a pain in the arse. All of this can make us forget what the day is all about. So, forget the tin foil / fur fabric / superglue for a moment and read this:

Last year, Book Aid International sent over half a million books to sub-Saharan Africa. This incredible charity helps to improve education, literacy and development in the places that need it most. While we’re busy tweeting and texting and looking things up on Wikipedia, it’s easy to forget how powerful and useful books can be. It’s also easy for us to take for granted the ease with which we and our children can get hold of pretty much any book we like, for cheap or even free.

Book Aid International helps people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to books. In Kenya, for example, hundreds of thousands of children never even get to finish primary school, because they’re too poorly, or they’re looking after a relative with HIV or Aids, or they need to go to work in order to be able to survive. Those who do make it through primary school work in classrooms with no books and unsurprisingly, leave with low levels of literacy.

Winnie is a primary school pupil who wouldn’t be learning to read if it wasn’t for the work of Book Aid International. She said: “I like reading books because books are the things that motivate us and let us be who we want.”

Winnie’s quote really touched me; books don’t just inform, they also inspire.

So, if you’re cursing the school for springing World Book Day on you at the last minute, or yourself for forgetting to sort out a costume, take a minute to visit the website and find out what you can do to help. And if you’re not a parent and you’ve never sewed / stuck together / stolen a costume and don’t know what the heck I am going on about, still go along to the website and see what you can do to help.

Tom didn’t end up having to dress up this year (I don’t think I could have managed a fox and a pyramid in one month.) Instead, he had to design a book cover. I tried telling him that I think you’re supposed to base it on existing book, but he insisted on inventing his own. Completely bonkers but very ace:

"Did you know oranges could dance? Oscar is meant to but he can't. Bill the banana and Jerry the cherry teach him in this exciting book."

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Books Change Lives

  1. Very touching post. My life would be skint without books. Rock on, world literacy.

  2. Sazzle

    Books got me through some really dark times growing up!
    I love them and will always be a bookworm.

  3. Words are wonderful! Books really are one of the most precious things we’ve got .

  4. Yep. Caught out as CJ is in reception and I didn’t know what was coming. There are ‘Hungry Caterpillar’ style butterfly wings, which I fashioned from a box retrieved from the wheely bin (don’t worry, it’s a paper-only bin!), currently drying in the kitchen. It’s good to be reminded what it’s really all about.

  5. Great post – Tom should write his book!

  6. Very true. Read Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie or Tom Brown’s School Days by Thomas Hudges (My Favorite) and you will find the magic of Reading Books.

  7. Ahahahahahaha ‘Break dancing Fruit’!! Best name for a book EVER! Tom is awesome! Thanks for posting about this; Book Day passed me by this year as Sam isn’t at school yet so it was left off my radar, but I think it is a really important cause. Sam and my daily lives would be SO different without having stories to read, and I find he learns so much from them; totally opens up his world of imagination and starts conversations on topics that wouldn’t otherwise have been raised.

    • Oops, just won one of these
      http://www.tidy-books.com/categories/bookcases
      on ebay. Got it new for £60 incl p&p, so quite a bargain, but still…definitely went over the limit I’d set myself! Damn your bloomin’ blog post!!!

    • Emily

      Thanks, I love Break Dancing Fruit too. I went to a meeting at my son’sschool recently where they said that instilling a love of books and reading in children from the earliest possible age is one of the greatest gifts you can give them – and I wholeheartedly agree. No need to tell you to keep it up as I’m sure you will – it’s one of my favourite parts of this parenthood lark.

  8. mumofthree

    I’ve spent my morning reading all of your blogs – I have laughed and even cried a little at some of them (bike riding in the park!). I would buy break dancing fruit – my 3year old son would love it!!!! Thanks for cheering up my otherwise dull morning and look forward to reading more!

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