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Our bookshops show people do read here

PUBLISHED: 00:35 21 June 2008 | UPDATED: 20:41 05 July 2010

READING is key to educating young minds and obtaining information but it's coming under increasing threat. But Waveney has a host of fine bookshops and libraries as ANDREW KITCHEN, the district council's arts and heritage service manager, reveals.

READING is key to educating young minds and obtaining information but it's coming under increasing threat. But Waveney has a host of fine bookshops and libraries as ANDREW KITCHEN, the district council's arts and heritage service manager, reveals.

AS I put these words to paper I realise I am preaching, or at least writing, to the converted.

But there is nothing like getting converts to promote a good cause and in the arts and heritage arena there are many causes needing many advocates, but this cause is the need to read.

And everything starts with reading. Reading opens doors to everything in life, from applying to jobs to gaining some understanding of the world via enjoying your favourite hobbies.

The 2008 National Year of Reading, in all its forms is a celebration of reading - and yes, I know, another “Year” but read on.

This year strives to build a greater national passion for reading - for children, families and adult learners alike. It encourages people to read in businesses, homes, and communities round the country, providing new opportunities to read and helping people to access help and support through schools and libraries. Campaigns and activities throughout are trying to inspire everyone to read more, with a focus on reluctant readers, those with low confidence, and boys and dads.

At a local car boot sale recently I overheard someone challenging a book stall owner: “Why are you selling those here? People don't read in Lowestoft!”

For once I managed to bite my tongue (I was “off duty”) but that's clearly untrue - not only were there books aplenty selling at that car boot but the town boasts various bookshops, general, specialist, ancient and modern and an efficient branch of a national chain. It has a good library too - as do other areas across Waveney. Reading obviously matters to many people. But there are some groups who need encouragement.

The vital role of dads in bedtime reading is under threat, new research by the National Year of Reading has revealed.

Less than half of dads (42pc) say they regularly read bedtime stories to their children, while mums are twice as likely (76pc) to do so, despite bedtime reading being one of the best ways of establishing the reading habit in children. And children in England read for pleasure less frequently than those in other countries _ a quarter of boys claim to never, or almost never, read stories outside of school compared to 10pc of girls.

Work pressures, including stress and long hours, were the main barrier for 58pc of dads, while a lack of confidence meant one in 10 felt the role was better suited to mums. Boys are falling behind girls when it comes to reading and more male readers as role models would help redress this.

A recent report conducted by the National Literacy Trust also found that while three-quarters of children said their mum encouraged them to read only half said the same of their dad. Disconcertingly, nearly a quarter of pupils stated that no-one in their family encouraged them to read.

Honor Wilson-Fletcher, director of the National Year of Reading, said: “Reading has never been more important, but we know boys lag far behind girls when it comes to reading. Boys need to see their dads enjoying reading if they are to become readers themselves as they grow up. Football programmes, blogs, newspapers and sports magazines are just as valuable reading as fairy tales. Reading is the best private investment you can make in your child's education, it's free and makes you feel like the best parent on earth. Just spending 10 minutes a day reading something you enjoy with your children can make a real difference.”

And even being seen to be reading can serve as a role model for younger people - so stand up for reading and sit down and enjoy yourself with a good book.

The National Year of Reading is calling on all large employers to make their workplaces more reader-friendly. There are a host of simple, practical challenges for businesses including:

Turn old smoking rooms into a staff reading area;

Adopt-a-book for all staff to share;

Create a book swap shelf for children's books at work;

Encourage staff to join a library;

Encourage night shift workers to pre-record bedtime stories for their children

For more information about the Year of Reading, and to find out more about how your business can support reading both at work and at home visit www.yearofreading.org.uk

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