World Book Day – a call to action

 

Sir, – Today is World Book Day. The French government last week officially announced that bookshops were an “essential business” and would therefore be allowed to reopen during the Covid lockdown. In Ireland, bookshops and libraries, as well as museums, remain closed. Public well-being and mental health are suffering as a result of this discrimination against cultural activities.

All the while, DIY stores in Ireland remain open for amateur hobbyists, DIY enthusiasts and home-furnishings addicts, allowing crowds to browse, search, shop or just meet up with friends.

How are items like cushions and scented candles more “essential” than books?

Bookshops, libraries and museums are seldom as busy as large DIY centres.

In a country like Ireland which prides itself on its literary and cultural heritage and which likes to think of itself as a nation of readers, it is incomprehensible that such equally controllable indoor spaces are banned from opening. – Yours, etc,

GRACE NEVILLE,

Sunday’s Well,

Cork.

A chara, – World Book Day will be different for most children this year. Out of the classroom since December, children have not had the same opportunity to discover a love of learning in their school libraries.

Books are central to the ongoing development of every person’s literacy skills.

Post-Covid, we need a strategy that addresses the literacy gap in Ireland. OECD studies show that poverty and low literacy are two sides of the same coin, and lead to the perpetuation of inequality later in life.

In a year where children have not had the same opportunity to browse the aisles of their school library, Labour wants to see a scheme introduced to encourage children throughout the country to make a trip to their library to encourage a lifelong love for books.

A tangible community approach, this will improve literacy skills in a targeted way. Providing each child with a membership card and the offer of a “book to keep” will stimulate community participation.

We need to create a fairer starting point for children and help eradicate illiteracy through early intervention at the primary and secondary school levels.

Reading is for life, not just World Book Day. Let’s give every child in Ireland a right to read rooted in their local library. – Yours, etc,

AODHÁN Ó RÍORDÁIN TD,

Labour,

Dáil Éireann,

Kildare Street,

Dublin 2.