Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Save the Libraries If You like - but Wouldn't It Be Better to Give Every Child a Kindle?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Save the Libraries If You like - but Wouldn't It Be Better to Give Every Child a Kindle?

Article excerpt

Byline: KATE FOX

AS a child I gobbled books up as if they were chocolate cakes. They were an escape, a sanctuary and the place I learned about the world. In fact, cake would be putting it mildly. They were more like drugs.

We lived in the countryside miles from a library so I'd have to make sure I had enough for the weekend from the school library or resort to adult supplies like my Mum's Jean Plaidy historical novels, or hope that someone would take pity on me and slip me 50p for a Chalet School book (and not go on at me to go and play outside instead).

When I was 13, I'd read all the children's section in the not-very-well stocked local library and begged the librarian if I could go onto the hard stuff. The grown up books. One said yes, another said no, so I'd make sure I only borrowed when the one who'd said yes was on duty.

Jeffrey Archer, the Brontes, Jilly Cooper, Harold Robinson, Thomas Hardy - I wasn't very discriminating. As long as it had words and I could get lost in it. I probably found out more about the bedroom habits of imaginary Hollywood moguls and Home Counties polo players than was strictly good for me.

If I was a child nowadays I hope I'd be gifted a Kindle at some point and then I'd never leave the house. When forced to I'd probably have broken my nose in a Kindle-reading-whilst walking incident. If I had the wherewithal to set up a charity it would be one that gives every child a Kindle-type device preloaded with a library that would take them up to adulthood - complete with pictures, bells, whistles and whatever interactive devices a modern kid requires.

It feels controversial to be saying this but I suspect it would have a far more dramatic and useful effect on literacy standards than community libraries currently do. Boys particularly are far more likely to make use of a device like that than go and hang out down their local library. …

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