Turning a page is better than closing a book

As parents and teachers we should heed the words of Jackie French, children’s author and NSW Citizen of the Year, who said recently ‘Every time you see a child read a book you know they are developing new neurons in their brains.’

I still have in my bedside table a book titled ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’. It has a battered hard-back cover in faded burgundy, and is inscribed ‘With love from Gran, 1947’. I shall treasure it forever. 

We were the lucky generation as books were a precious part of our lives. Even small towns had their municipal library.

The town librarian I still remember was the terrifying Miss Brown, the arbiter and judge of the town’s morals through the books she selected for the library. Nothing too racy!

I was sternly spoken to when I asked to borrow From Here to Eternity, considered racy at the time. I was around 16 years old. I left without it.

Our Bendigo library today offers a wide range not only of books per se, but also an astonishing variety of other mediums through which we can research information and genealogy.

We can download audio books. We have access to magazines, newspapers, films and documentaries, family and local history, programs for adults and children and technical support for seniors. We have access to over 200 sets of books for Book Club groups.

This library has reinvented itself to reach out to its public, making it an invaluable asset in our community.

School libraries are much more than just a depository for books. Children need access to good fiction to understand their world more clearly.  

Our local municipal library can never totally replace the role of the school library and teacher librarian in the education of a student.

I use an eReader when I travel and haven’t the room in my case for a ‘real’ book.

It definitely has its place in my life but I’m not convinced that actually holding a real book which I can leaf through, look back over, remind myself of the characters or the plot, isn’t a better option when I read. I love the smell of a book, its texture, to hold it and balance its weight in my hands.

Both fiction and non-fiction can often help us understand the motivation that drives people to choose a particular path in life and for us to accept that there is more than one path we can walk.

I love nothing more than wandering into a secondhand book shop or the library, cruising the shelves.  If I leave with three or four books I feel I have bought myself time out or borrowed a great present.

I delight to see books beside the bedsides of my grandchildren. They love their books too.

A passion for reading and writing are intertwined in many ways. We have a Bendigo Writers Council which organises monthly meetings of writers.

There’s a guest speaker each month, usually someone who is a writer in a particular genre, and it is followed with an exercise in writing which the group then completes and shares (if they choose to).

It’s a useful way for would-be authors to share their experiences and support each other.

We have our Bendigo Writers’ Festival starting on August 11. That is a must on the calendar.

A passion for reading, the joy of language, it’s a great gift. I love sharing it with my children, my grandchildren, my friends.