Libraries might have been popular haunts once but things have considerably changed over the years with the pandemic making matters only worse. Now, a group of UK authors have come together and are calling for the government to revitalise the fading charm of the place.
According to a report in The Guardian, writers like Cressida Cowell, Malorie Blackman, Quentin Blake, and Michael Rosen have come to this decision fearing literacy levels might have been affected during the pandemic.
In a letter, partly quoted by the report, Cowell has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for £100m a year to restore libraries, adding that children are “missing out on opportunities to discover the life-changing magic of reading”.
“Surely the opportunity to become a reader for pleasure is just as important [as PE]?…How is it fair that some children are being given this immeasurable advantage in life, but stark book poverty means many more are denied this same chance to change their future?” the letter reads.
“I have visited primary schools across the country over my 20-year career as a children’s author/illustrator and it is heartbreaking to see just how unevenly this fundamental opportunity is distributed…So often the children who need books the most are in schools that cannot provide them with even an adequate school library, let alone a good one,” Cowell writes.
“The impact of Covid-19 on literacy will be a major challenge, but hopefully it will focus everyone’s minds on what we need to do,” she said. “Even before the pandemic, children were starting months behind where they should be. It is a major problem. And as a practical person, I am suggesting a practical solution. We ringfence money for sport, why not literacy?” Cowell said while speaking to the outlet.
The idea behind the campaign is to renovate libraries in six schools — “Benwick primary school in Cambridgeshire, Dinnington community primary school in Rotherham, Griffin primary school in Wandsworth, Saviour CE primary school in Manchester, Skerne Park primary school in Darlington, and Woodchurch C of E primary school in Wirral.”
Each of them will get 1000 books to be donated by publishers, and the staff will be trained and new furniture and technology will be provided with. They will open in June and for the next year, the impact of the changes will be examined.