TODAY, we launch our Christmas Appeal, asking you – our readers – to help buy books for children across Scotland this festive period. We have partnered with Scottish Book Trust and are honoured to have its patron, author Val McDermid, writing our launch article. We are appealing to you to help make sure children and families visiting food banks this winter are gifted with a brand new book they may otherwise not receive. The reality of the cost-of-living crisis for many Scots is bleak, and for countless families there will not be an option of buying books this Christmas. But, as so many of us know, books – and reading together – brings immeasurable joy, while improving mental health and wellbeing. Every child in Scotland deserves that. Judith Kerr’s Mog The Forgetful Cat will feature in our campaign and we are very grateful to Kerr’s family and publisher HarperCollins for giving permission for the use of an illustration from the classic Mog’s Christmas. Funds raised from our appeal will enable Scottish Book Trust to give books to families via food banks and community hubs and deliver more of its life-changing work. To learn more, visit: scottishbooktrust. com/donate Thank you. Catherine Salmond, Editor Read the article from Val McDermid below. You’d think from the levels of library closures we’ve seen in recent years that books were a luxury. Wrong. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the fortunate ones. You can afford to buy a newspaper or get online to read it there. For so many people in our country now, that’s an unimaginable extravagance. Putting hot food on the table for themselves and their families is hard enough and every day we hear reports of the consequences of having to choose between heating and eating. Poverty is like a cancer – if you survive it, the memory of it never leaves you. The damage cuts deep, and the fear of a recurrence shadows the rest of your life. Children suffer most of all. We know that their life chances are limited by poverty in their early years. Only this week, we learned that life expectancy suffers because of the illnesses of poverty that don’t emerge until later in life. And it’s not just their physical condition that’s affected. Levels of depression and other mental health problems among children and young people are at record levels. Educational attainment is slipping too – it’s hard to concentrate on learning when you’re dazed with hunger. This winter, at least a fifth of all families in Scotland will be struggling to make ends meet, through no fault of their own. It’s not just individual households that are being damaged by the rising costs of living – it’s the very charities that are committed to supporting them. All over the country, more and more people are turning to food banks to feed themselves and their families. But the food banks themselves are stretched to their limits and we regularly hear about parents starving themselves to put food in the mouths of their children. What we don’t hear so often is that hearts and minds starve as well as bodies. Under pressure, family bonds are stretched to breaking point. Again, it’s the children who suffer most. This is just one of the reasons why books matter. Reading bedtime stories, sharing a book brings parents and children closer. It starts conversations and stimulates imagination, giving birth to the idea of possibility. Without books, it’s not just children who lose out. Stories comfort children too. When you’re stuck somewhere you don’t want to be, books can transport you to another place, another time. We all remember the shaming of the kids in the class who stumbled over reading aloud. Having books at home is a practical way to improve children’s performance at school. They become more accomplished readers which opens doors and increases their confidence. I know from my own experience the practical value of books. When I was a child, books were an expense my working class parents couldn’t afford – and certainly they couldn’t have kept pace with my habit once I learned to read for myself. But I could borrow books from the local library and the school book box. I devoured stories and through them, I learned about a world whose horizons would otherwise have been unimaginable for a wee lassie fi’ Fife. I was a lonely only child and as a result of reading other people’s stories, I began to make up my own tales. Whichever book I was reading, I would inject myself into and push the stories in different directions. That opening up of creativity isn’t confined to writing. The grandson of one of my gran’s neighbours used to draw beautiful comic book versions of the books he’d been reading. One of my schoolmates ended up as a professor of history because his dreams had been set on fire by reading swashbuckling historical fiction. If we are at all serious about ending cycles of deprivation, about creating a country with economic growth, about building a citizenry at ease with itself, we can make a big start by providing books to those who lack them. That’s why the Scottish Book Trust is running an appeal to give children a very special gift this Christmas. Families dependent on foodbanks need more than just a full belly. They deserve an imagination filled to the brim. The chance to change their destinies starts here.
Published on : 2022-11-14 06:35:19
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