Risk for readers
I am sure that you have all already heard, read and then experienced partial relief over the Christmas break about Booktrust’s funding news, but it wouldn’t be right for me not to post about it. On the Tuesday before Christmas the Bookseller announced that the Government were to take away 100% of Booktrust’s funding.
Library Mice summed up my feelings on this with her post entitled How Dare They. I was honestly stunned by this decision. Obviously having worked with Booktrust on their Booktime programme for the past four or so years and also having blogged for Bookstart and worked on Letterbox Club I know how amazing their work is. But from what I have seen and read since the announcement last Tuesday there have been a huge amount of people who feel as passionately as I do, and rightly so.
I posted last year when Milo and I received his Bookstart pack. It was an important milestone for us and still feels special. I want him to receive his Booktime pack when he starts school – he’ll be so excited about his special book bag and wonderful books and then when he is older, I want him to choose his Booked Up books. It upset me thinking this might not happen. It felt like a personal blow that I suddenly shared with all the families that would be missing out.
Yet Booktrust is full of creative, resourceful and talented people and I was sure that they would all be working very hard to find new ways to bridge this gap and keep putting books into the hands of children. Boxing Day brought a reprieve and a partial u-turn from the DFE who have now committed to Booktrust’s bookgifting. You can read the joint statement from the DFE and Booktrust on the Booktrust site. Here’s a key sentence:
“[…]the Department are talking to Booktrust about how to develop a new programme which will ensure that every child can enjoy the gift of books at crucial moments in their lives while ensuring we develop an even more effective way of supporting the most disadvantaged families to read together.”
A new programme as opposed to the three already established, well-known, well-loved, well-established programmes that Booktrust already have in place? Savings still need to be made and so one programme may be the best way to carry these out but, I’m not sure. I don’t know enough about what the future plans entail (and to a certain extent neither do Booktrust or the DFE), so at the moment I’m going to be settling on feeling of hope and positive vibes and relief that the most important thing has been addressed about these bookgifting schemes – getting books into the hands of families for shared reading as an opportunity that they might not have had previously.
There’s so much further information and discussion on the internet. Perhaps start it off with Polly Dunbar’s blog post on the Booktrust site which has some gorgeous yet sad illustrations on and move on to this Guardian article (be sure to read the comments, they are pretty heated and check out the links on the right of the article) as well as Alan Gibbons’ Bookseller blog.
You can see Viv Bird, chief executive of Booktrust talking about the Government’s change of heart over the cuts on the BBC website.
Let’s all focus on the thing that should matter most to us all who love books, reading and literacy: inspiring children’s imaginations, whatever it takes.