Author Neil Gaiman gave a lecture on October 15th as part of The Reading Agency annual lectures about the importance of libraries, reading and day-dreaming.
In order to raise literacy in children, they need to know that reading is good. If a parent takes away a book because s/he considers it a ‘bad book’ then the child will believe that reading is frowned upon. In addition to having access to books, children need to read what they want to, not what you give them. As Gaiman puts it, “A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn’t hackneyed and worn out to them…Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing.”
“But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication.”
A library is the home of all information. From history to maps and fiction, libraries serve as a place where information is at your fingertips. With the rise of internet and computer use, libraries give the opportunity to use their computers and internet access for free. Some places around the world do not see the importance of libraries which results in closing them. As a reader, I can only hope that libraries will not lose their place in the literate world.
Fiction has let the reader use their imagination when reading. Readers create the images, smells, etc. that the author has described. Without fiction, and books in general, our imaginations will not be fully developed or even existent. It seems as if the world’s imagination has lessened. While TV and movies provide some escape, it does not compare to the experience one gets while reading. Gaiman states that “Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.” Imagination is a great attribute a person can possess.
I highly recommend reading his brilliant lecture.