I am one of the lucky ones. I discovered the joy of reading at a very young age and even though I wasn't encouraged to read by parents or carers, somehow I learnt how to do it when I was 5 years old. A teacher at my first primary school encouraged this ability and was without doubt an important influence in my young life. Perhaps she was a passionate believer in what 'The Reader Organisation calls 'the transformative power of reading'.
I remember when she told us the tiny story about two little birds': Two little dicky birds sitting on the wall, One named Peter and one named Paul, Fly away Peter, Fly away Paul...and magically the two little birds (bits of paper on the end of her forefingers) would disappear...Come back Peter, Come back Paul...and just as amazingly would reappear. I was enthralled by those vanishing birds and thought and thought about how it was done. She brought that same magic into the stories she read to us, from the Three Billy Goats Gruff, or the Ladybird Books, to the story about a child who was colour-blind and whose parents only discovered this when the small boy spoke about an Irish Red Setter as the 'Green Dog'. There were many more books and stories that she introduced us to.
So I was lucky, others were not so fortunate to have reading as their friend - we know this to be even more so today in 2012 when there are low levels of literacy and a widespread apathy towards books and reading.
Vintage Books have just published a collection of ten essays called Stop What You’re Doing and Read This! by authors from the worlds of science, publishing, technology and social enterprise.
Jane Davis, is one of the authors and describes how The Reader Organisation‘s Reading Revolution began. Others include: Mark Haddon, Michael Rosen, Zadie Smith, Carmen Callil, Jeanette Winterson, Tim Parks, Blake Morrison, Dr Maryanne Wolf, Mirit Barzillai, and Nicholas Carr.
The writers are all from very different backgrounds. Some were lucky and grew up with lots of books in the home, for others books were banned or hard to find. But all ten agree that reading is a powerful pleasure that inspires us, allows us to escape to other worlds, improves our wellbeing, and how important it is for us now and for the future of humanity. Reading is a wonderful and unique experience, so Stop What You're Doing and Read This and this and this and this.....