Thursday 3 March 2011

World Book Day

It was a strange sight at my daughters primary school: All the children and teachers were wearing their pyjamas! As it was World Book Day, the school decided to celebrate by thinking about bedtime stories. It could also be that the teachers were trying to save time in the morning journey to work.

I wonder how long it will last. The virtual book, the kindle culture is all around us. Children are learning as much from their computers as they are from books. I fear for bookshops everywhere - the loss of Dillons, Ottokars, then Borders and the cuts to Waterstones stores over the last few years tells the real story. The fact that Libraries have born the brunt of so many local government cutbacks is also a sign of the times.

Yet I love the book. I cannot imagine reading my child a bedtime story from a machine. I would hate to see my own library, the 'Victor Jara Liberation Theology Library' become a relic of some bygone age. Books are beautiful, they are the givers of life in so many different ways.

At the launch of my own book, someone told me the story of a priest who put two books into his hands when he was a boy. It was the start of his emancipation. He developed a love for reading, and went from a kid on rough council estate to become an accomplished bookseller.

Books have a power all of their own. Let us not allow the 'market' to determine the future of our communication and our emancipation.

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