Don’t let books become extinct!

Get your child to pick up a book today.

International Children’s Book Day (today, 2 April) celebrates the wonder of children’s books everywhere. The day is designed to inspire children to pick up a book and get reading. We desperately need that inspiration these days, as children are far more inclined to pick up an iPad or iPhone and start playing Crossy Road or Flappy Bird than pick up a book and start reading.

April the 2nd was chosen to mark this day for young literature lovers, because it’s Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. Andersen was the author of many famous children’s stories, fairy tales and poetry, like “The Little Mermaid”, “The Tinderbox”, “The Ugly Duckling”, “The Snow Queen”, “The Nightingale”, “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and many more. His stories have inspired plays, ballets, and both live-action and animated films.

Organised by the International Board on Books for Young People (or IBBY), the aim of International Children’s Book Day is to promote books and reading to young people and this is becoming increasingly important.

Not only are children losing interest in books, but so are adults, and the book industry is in a very difficult place. Much like the media, everything is going online; bookstores are under threat, with chains such as Borders already falling victim. Books are no longer treasured like they were, and they seem to have become largely disposable items.

It was sad to see recent news that a library in East Bay, Alameda in the USA had been criticised for putting 100,000 books into the trash. Not even the recycling either, but the regular trash!

While angry residents showed up at a special meeting to express their outrage, the Alameda County library director said they just wanted newer, updated books.

She said about 172,000 books had been discarded over the past two years, due to the need for more shelf space after spending about $3 million on new books.

While some of these books may have been extremely tatty, most would have been gratefully received at local schools, child care centres, preschools, infant schools, family day care centres, playgroups and crèches.

So let’s put a little more thought back into books this month. Give gadgets and TV the heave-ho for 30 minutes a day. Encourage children to pick up a book for this time instead. Do this every day for the whole of April if you can.

Many kids aren’t natural bookworms, but once they find a book they enjoy and get into the habit of reading, they start to really enjoy it. Sometimes it just takes a little encouragement.

Set up a household competition with your kids – give them an incentive to get reading. If they’re too little to read themselves, read to them or encourage them to look at the pictures and flick through the pages for half an hour a day.

If you have any old children’s books you don’t want, that have been grown out of or that you simply don’t have space for, don’t put them in the bin! There will be a charitable organisation, child care centre, preschool, playgroup or crèche near you that would love to have them.

Published for on April 2 2015.

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