Gwyneth Perry, Senior Librarian, @ Weltevreden Park Library
In my years of working in the library field, I have noticed a definite trend. Children who read prolifically and are regular library users often excel academically and become leaders within their schools.
I am often very proud of my young library users when I’m told that they have been made a prefect or head prefect at their school, or I notice a string of academic badges on their school blazers.
The statement ‘readers are leaders’ may seem obvious, but not everyone realizes the importance of and the role that reading plays in the development of children. Reading develops their vocabulary and overall general knowledge and comprehension. It opens up the world to them and makes them aware of a bigger space beyond just their immediate surroundings and city. It teaches life experiences, through the adventures and activities the characters in the books go through. It also plays a role in developing second and third languages as the children read books in a variety of languages.
All this, in turn, improves their self-confidence, which allows them to step up into leadership roles.
Children should be encouraged to read, not just as a tedious task as set out by school teachers, but as an opportunity for enjoyment and pleasure. It is so encouraging for me, as a librarian, to see how excited children get when they visit the library for the first time and have the opportunity to choose their very own books AND to get to take them home. The wonder in the eyes of the children when they first come into the library and see ALL those books just never gets old.
It is my hope that more and more children will come and use the library for the borrowing of books, help with homework, access to WiFi, library programs, and just for the enjoyment of being in a space like this. Libraries are still vital centers of learning and should be used as an important part of a child’s overall education and development.