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Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming

Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming
It's important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members' interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I'm going to tell you that libraries are important. I'm going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. And I am biased, obviously and enormously: I'm an author, often an author of fiction. So I'm biased as a writer. And I'm here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. And it's that change, and that act of reading that I'm here to talk about tonight. I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. It's not one to one: you can't say that a literate society has no criminality. It's tosh.

How reading a little each week is a form of life support This article was written by Josie Billington, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director at the Centre for Research into Reading, Literature and Society at University of Liverpool in the UK. The article was originally published on the Conversation. One in three adults in the UK – or 16 million people – rarely or never read for pleasure. A new survey of 4,164 adults, including both those who read and those who don’t, found that adults who read for just 20 minutes a week are 20 percent more likely to feel satisfied with their lives. Our research was not focused on people who are unable to read as a result of literacy difficulties or other impairments. We looked instead at people who can read – and often have been regular readers in the past – but who have lost the reading habit, often through a significant life-event, such as having children or falling ill. Mood and relaxation Non-readers were 28 percent more likely to report feelings of depression than those who read regularly for pleasure.

Lost for words? How reading can teach children empathy | Teacher Network There’s no better feeling than seeing a child losing themselves in the world of a favourite fictional character. The benefits of reading go far beyond literacy: an emerging body of research highlights the power of stories to help children handle their own and other people’s feelings. A Cambridge University study by Maria Nikolajeva, professor of education, found that “reading fiction provides an excellent training for young people in developing and practising empathy and theory of mind, that is, understanding of how other people feel and think”. Neuroscience backs this up. Empathy is increasingly being recognised as a core life skill, and the bedrock for sound relationships and classroom climate. EmpathyLab is a small start-up that is exploring ways to use stories to boost empathy among students. Pick the right books The first thing is to find the right story. In general, look for texts with well-rounded, believable characters. If it’s hard to find the best books, search out a librarian.

10 Reasons Bedtime Reading Rocks My life is busy and chaotic, and every family has its challenges with time and individual circumstances. Large families, single fathers or mothers, children with disabilities, a parent who is home after bedtime, children who don’t enjoy reading…all challenges to bedtime reading and I will address some of these things in future posts, and with some fabulous guest bloggers. But for now, here are some thoughts on why I enjoy bedtime reading with my children. We Love Bedtime Books When he’s home before bedtime, the PudStar/daddy bedtime books routine is a complicated one and apparently it has to be done in the same order each night – two books, one squishy, one minute of snuggle, a thumb wrestle, two squashies and something else I don’t remember. We both enjoy the bedtime reading routine thing, and this is why: Top Ten Reasons Bedtime Reading Rocks Because it makes me STOP. Bedtime Reading Rocks. Morning reading with PudStar. "Like What You Read?" Receive weekly updates of my newest posts!

Making a game out of science fiction Once a month I lead a book group for 8-12 year olds at our local public library and our most recent session was about science fiction books. It was one of the most enjoyable sessions we’ve had, so I thought I’d share what we did. My first challenge was to come up with a list of science fiction which 8-12 year olds might enjoy. This wasn’t such an easy task, but in the end my book list read like this: Frank Cottrell Boyce’s Cosmic Sally Gardner’s Maggot MoonA range of Dr Who booksMadeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time – both the original and the graphic novel (adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson) SF Said’s PhoenixVarious Star Wars spin off booksPhilip Reeve Sarah McIntyre’s Cakes in Space Nicholas Fisk’s Star Stormers and Space Hostages Jen Reese’s Above worldJohn Christopher’s The Tripods Paul Magrs’ Lost on Mars Mark Haddon’s BOOM! Several people helped me come up with this list (thank you!) Fiction which typically focuses on: ).

My life as a bookworm: what children can teach us about how to read | Books I spent most of my early years – aged one to three, say – being trodden on. “It was your own fault,” my mother explains. “You were too quiet. You used to stand by my feet, not making a sound, so I’d forget you were there. I think the explanation lies in the fact that I wasn’t really a baby. My parents are northern. My dad is a reader. When I was tiny I didn’t see Dad much because stage managing at the National Theatre takes you way past toddler bedtime. Later came weekly trips to the local library. But for children, rereading is absolutely necessary. “There is hope for a man who has never read Malory or Boswell or Tristram Shandy or Shakespeare’s sonnets,” CS Lewis once wrote. This is why it slightly frustrates me that my son, who is six, has never really had a favourite book. As I got older, my dad was working long hours during the week, and in recompense had started coming home with a new book for me every Friday. It all seemed deeply unfair. I think there’s reason to hope not.

What are words?