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The gift of reading by Anabel Marsh

Reading is the greatest gift – it opens up so many new worlds. It’s not just the obvious benefits of functional literacy: stories have the power to bring emotions to life, by helping children to understand their own feelings and those of others. In other words, reading builds empathy*, the ability to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes” – and isn’t this something the world needs more than ever these days?

The children in your life probably already have easy access to this gift. I certainly did – that’s me in the picture, aged three, with one of my Christmas presents. However, many children don’t have the advantages of growing up in a house full of books, or with parents that take them to libraries. Every Christmas, I try to do something about that. This year, I’ve chosen The Book Bus, which delivers books to schools in Zambia, Malawi and Ecuador. I’m reassured from their website that this is not a charity which dumps unwanted, inappropriate second-hand material – they ask schools what they want and only buy top quality up-to-date books. This ensures that the children have a positive experience and develop a love of reading that will last a lifetime. ​

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Could you also give the gift of reading? The excellent blog Playing by the Book lists over 150 Literacy / Book charities from all over the world that you could choose from. Happy giving!

* See Reading for pleasure builds empathy and improves wellbeing, research from The Reading Agency finds.


Author Bio:
Anabel Marsh loves books, travel and her home city of Glasgow, Scotland. She blogs regularly on these topics at Anabel’s Travel Blog and (rather less regularly) at Adventures of a Retired Librarian. Find her on Twitter @AnabelMarsh.

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14 thoughts on “Advent Calendar Day 8: The Gift of Reading by Anabel Marsh

  1. The gift of reading ws giving to me by my family as soon as I was born – or so I may say. It is so wonderful! My Girls (read “my two wards with DownS”) learnt to read and write when they were young children, and when I took charge of them, we went reularly to book shops and suscribed in a library in Paris. Now that we live in the country, the soures for reading are more problematic but they have the family books, newspapers and magazines. They spend hours reading and then talk of this.

    But we are glad now to be able to send books and material to one school in Rwanda and one orphan house in Benin through young priests who we know from our previous parish in Paris. We are sure to know where the things go and we have created some links with the two institutions through drawings and short letters.

    Reading seems natural for us and moqt likely a pleasure: we just forget that it is an instrument that may change life.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is amazing! It truly encompasses the spirit of Christmas. ^.^ I think it’s even better that they ask the schools what they want because too often we stuff reading down children’s throats (at least in America), but it’s not what they want to read. So, even though they’re reading, they aren’t forming of a love of reading. That’s why this stands out to me. What wonderful work people are doing in the world!

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  3. Thank you Anabel. When you put something like this out into the blogosphere, you never know what it might lead to. The school my kids belong to is supported by the Dymock’s Book Bank run by Dymock’s Children’s Charitieshttp://dcc.gofundraise.com.au/cms/aboutus. Each child receives a new book each term which they choose themselves from the NSW Premier’s reading list. Through doing the publicity, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of children choosing their own books for developing a life-long love of reading. I don’t always follow this through with my own kids and also buy them books I hear about or like myself but my mother seems to do that well. She is more financial. We have had teacher’s from our school do a literacy trip to a remote part of Papua New Guinea and there was a big rally to get things together. We donated many of my kids’ books back to the school library, which was very grateful. Some of these books were very popular and sent out to the classrooms to be used. I also bought a pile of books from a kids author who was popular in my childhood called Colin Thiele. He wrote “Storm Boy”, a well known Australian story about a boy with a pelican. I guess these were deemed old school by the librarian but I look forward to reading them myself. I really hate to throw out books and if you saw my house you’d fully understand! xx Rowena

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