It was enough to make me want to cry, or bash my head against something hard. Michael Rosen on BBC4 on Sunday reminded me of Ann Maurice, of House Doctor fame. The words ‘bleeding obvious’ are not part of my normal vocabulary, but they keep popping up in my brain. Because that’s what it was. Obvious library doctoring.
Once Michael had left his first class train in Cardiff, he did what I would expect him to do. He worried about the state of reading at Springwood primary school, and about the lack of access to books. Then he did the whole enthusiastic Michael Rosen thing that’s expected of him and the school metamorphosed into a book loving haven.
But what about all the other schools in the country? They can’t all have the Children’s Laureate come round in person to enthuse. Would watching the programme have a House Doctor effect? And where did the money come from? Did the BBC help, or did the school have surplus funds? They did have a surplus classroom that could become the new library. The schools I know personally use shoe horns just to get rooms for lessons, let alone for colourful libraries.
I felt sad over the school staff who had lost any interest in reading a long time ago. If they don’t have it, they can’t pass it on to the children. It was sort of sad to see the non-reading children’s parents saying how they hoped their children would do better than they had. They had ambition, at least, if no experience, and possibly no money with which to buy books.
But the saddest of all was the confident reader who had lost interest. Her Mum was more than willing to spend, spend on books. But the books the girl owned were so desperately too young and too boring. The girl didn’t understand that that’s why she no longer wanted to read. Did the parents think ‘she’s got books, why doesn’t she read them?’.
The selling of books at school didn’t go well, to begin with, and I’m not surprised. They were expensive. Thank goodness for the member of staff who found cheaper books and started selling them at cost, and who was very successful. It reminded me of our ‘Learning Resource Centre’, where the librarian isn’t allowed to save the school, the LEA and the taxpayers money by buying cheap. She has to buy from approved places that can issue the right kind of invoice. Never mind that you could have five times as many books from somewhere else, or cut the cost by 80%.
Springwood had lots of computers. So does ‘our’ LRC. They are what school staff and school governors are proud of. You get out of a school what you put into it. In this case computer literate children who like games better than books.
And was it just me, but I thought the books they had at Springwood were baby-ish? As with the girl with the generous mother, you need to know what books would be right for the children. At least they got Francesca Simon to visit, the lucky souls. I’d say Horrid Henry was about right for Springwood. Mature enough to be interesting, while young enough not to be too hard to read. And fun.