Monday, May 05, 2008

Story Hour

If you were fortunate enough to live near a public library, you may have trundled off on a Saturday morning to hear a story. At the appointed hour, the children's librarian would take a seat at the head of a small group of eager ears, and read books aloud.

What better way to encourage reading than to show how grand an experience it could be? The young listeners were transported to other times and places, setting off on voyages of imagination, and discovered that such a trip was easy to take as long as they had a book under the nose.

Even now, adults organize book groups to read and discuss the latest best seller or obscure classic. A meeting is often nothing more than an opportunity to socialize, to mingle and chat with fellow literates, but attendance at the meeting does force a member to actually read the book.

Green Party deputy leader Mary White would like to combine the children's story hour with the adult's book group and bring the magic of books to those who may not otherwise experience the pleasure of reading.

She'd like the government to fund training for librarians so that they could run meetings in which adults would read to anyone who wished to listen. Hospital patients, school children and jailed criminals would all benefit from being read aloud to. The elderly, isolated in their homes, might be drawn out and given an opportunity to interact with people. There's even a name for it --- bibliotherapy.

As government-run schemes go, this seems far more useful to the general public than most of the things that politicians believe to be essential for citizens' good. All well and good to provide public transportation, subsidies and school lunches. Why not provide a little food for the soul?

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