I was recently invited on an author visit to my local library in Church Stretton where I had the opportunity to read through my book ‘Zig Zag and the Giant Adventure,’ followed by an art activity. There were about 14 children aged 4 years upwards. The library staff were very welcoming and helped me organise and advertise the event. Other library users were mainly elderly and retired and they were delighted to see young children using and enjoying the library space.
The value of child friendly library spaces is enormous. The Government itself sees this value in its paper ‘Libraries, shaping the future.’ March 2017 (1) which states library services contribute to 7 outcomes:
- cultural and creative enrichment
- increased reading and literacy
- improved digital access and literacy
- helping everyone achieve their full potential
- healthier and happier lives
- greater prosperity
- stronger, more resilient communities
In just one morning I saw the development of the first two outcomes and saw how regular visits would definitely aid the other five. These very young children maintained their concentration and were entranced by the book, talking animatedly about the characters, listening to the story, answering questions about the pictures such as ‘What do you think the Giants are arguing about?’. They were suggesting alternative ideas for the story along the way and came up with some brilliant suggestions of other adventures Zig Zag could go on….I might use some of those in future books!
During the art activity they again used their imagination to come up with some lovely ideas …’I’m going to make a ‘party’ Zig Zag with balloons and presents’….’My Zig Zag is going to be a unicorn….’
At the end the children wandered around the wonderful children’s space in the library, picked up other books and shared them with their parents.
The whole session was completely free and filled a morning for parents who seemed to enjoy the session as much as the children. As an added bonus the library had organised some older children to run a tea and cake stall as a fund raiser.
Unfortunately the future of Church Stretton library is uncertain despite the value the local community places on it. Many local libraries are disappearing in this age of austerity. ‘The Library Campaign’ is an organisation set up ‘to advance the lifelong education of the public by the promotion, support, assistance and improvement of libraries through the activities of friends and user groups,’ and can be found http://www.librarycampaign.com. After my morning in Church Stretton, that’s one organisation I’ll definitely be supporting.