Margaret Thatcher stole the milk, Michael Gove stole the books.

The slash and burn policies of the ConDem Coalition at times beggars belief.

Bookstart costs £13 million nationwide. It is to be scrapped. £13 million is a drop in the ocean.

I love reading. I do not know where I would be without a book to read.

Bookstart as the name suggests, is a first book for children, it gets them on the path of reading, it is their first step.

But in what can only be described as an act of petty minded meanness the scheme is to be scrapped to save a paltry £13 million.

Former poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion has called it “an act of gross cultural vandalism”.

It is the early years that make a difference to later in life. Now it is young children who are suffering under the ConDem government slash and burn of public services.

The Booktrust which administers Bookstart will lose all its government funding from 2011. It also administers Booktime (which provides further packs for children as they start primary school) and Booked Up (which enables all year 7 pupils in England to choose a free book). In combination, these programmes send out 3.5 million book packs every year.

Children’s author Alan Gibbons, winner of the 2000 Blue Peter Book Award for Shadow of the Minotaur, has compared Education Secretary Michael Gove to the Dickens character Scrooge: “By what distorted logic could he think the pulling of funds to Booktrust is sensible or cost effective?”

He noted recent figures that showed 9% of boys entered secondary school with reading levels of the standard expected of seven-year-olds.

Alan Gibbons also pointed to the OECD’s PISA report, published this month, that showed the UK slipping in international education rankings and said too few children were reading for pleasure.

One in 11 boys leave primary school unable to read. In some areas it is as bad as 1 in 7!

We are not all in it together. The poor pay the price, the rich laugh all the way to their offshore banks. The Sunday Times Rich List 2010 has seen a £77 billion increase in wealth for British super rich in 1 year! That is Britain’s Super Rich have seen wealth rise by one third in one year! And for the likes of Sir Philip Green (or should that be Greed?) do not even pay tax! The rise is easily the largest annual increase in the 22 years that the survey has been carried out!

Not satisfied with scrapping Bookstart, not content with increasing student university tuition fees three fold and scrapping Education Maintenance Allowance for the poorest students, the latest slash and burn of public services is to fire hundreds of lollipop men and women who help kids safely across the road as they leave school.

Captain SKA – Liar Liar
My daughter received this book through Bookstart and still loves it
Government to reduce funding for free books charity
Writers furious at plan to axe free books scheme for children
Booktrust reading schemes to lose government funding
Booktrust funding news
One in 11 boys leaves primary school ‘unable to read’
Why cuts are the wrong cure
If ever there was a campaign that Tories should support …
Sunday Times Rich List 2010: Britain’s richest see wealth rise by one third
Sir Philip Green is Sponging Off the State

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6 Responses to “Bookstart”

  1. Susan Says:

    I am AWARE Keith of all you mention, as is/was generally the
    case, but I repeat again…agreeing with you will not ‘save’ whatever
    needs saving, paying for, etc….
    Better for me to engage myself with children personally, inspire them
    to read, teach them, tell them stories I have read, invite them to write their own, give them books and enjoy them together, etc……all of which
    I do…whilst being aware of the FACT/truth that a lot of children are simply not interested, nor stimulated by their parents and others and
    even if they are…PREFER their computers, mobile phones and music…
    I spent X-mas-eve-dinner with a friend, a single mother with 3 kids…
    The TV was on whilst we were eating and the children watching the film !!! I tried to get a CONVERSATION going by showing an interest in
    them, asking them about…ta-ta-ta… re-action, so I chatted to their
    mother….it was not exactly what I would call a jolly, inspiring X-mas-eve, no, but at least they had company from someone who supports and
    loves them…isn’t that what compassion, caring and sharing is all about ?
    To create a ‘better’ world/reality for all ACTION is part of CONTRIBUTING towards in whatever way that will ‘make a difference’….words, discussions alone is not enough…although much
    easier in many ways…
    Love Sue

    • keithpp Says:

      I agree Susan there is a problem in many homes. Their parent(s) are brain dead and as a result their children too. I see children who are bright and you can engage with, others who are dull-eyed and seemingly nothing between their ears.

      Nothing worse than children sat watching moronic TV, the opiate of the masses. It does nothing to stimulate them. Few people, let alone children, are these days capable of holding a conversation, let alone an intelligent conversation, their attention span is little more than a few minutes. It is very depressing when you visit people and the TV is on all day, they lack even the good manners to turn it off when you visit them. Sadly it is hard these days to find a bar that lacks a TV.

      But none of this justifies scrapping the Bookstart scheme, it has a proven track record. The good news is that such has been the public outcry it may have been reinstated

  2. keithpp Says:

    Good news! It looks as though the the public outcry has been such the ConDems have been forced to back down, funding may now be available. But the emphasis is on may, we d not yet know if the £13 million will be reinstated in full.

    Ministers accused of free book funding ‘partial U-turn’

  3. Elaine Says:

    As an American, I must comment about this government cut. This is so sad coming from one of if not the greatest countries that has bred many of the world’s finest children’s literature creators. Where would we be without the lessons learned from Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, and Rudyard Kipling just to name a very few? Think! Oh please think about how your actions will affect the future writers of your beautiful culture.

  4. Lainee Says:

    Sorry about posting late… I have been on my phone and not able to get the whole pic. Happy to hear that they are thinking about the consequences of this action. 🙂

  5. Susan Says:

    Re Good News…public outcry: lets hope WILL versus May BE !

    Re Braindead…
    I know many so-called ‘grown-ups’ with their brains/heads FULL
    of ‘accumulated’ knowledge from the many sources available, with
    university degrees, high-profile ‘performers’ in top-jobs who are
    emotionally/spiritually DEAD, have become ‘intellectual robots’, de-
    sensitized beings.

    Re Politeness…
    Apart from not turning off or at least turning down sound of TV when
    receiving visitors, many other forms of politeness are not honoured anymore, such as e.g. simply answering to, however briefly, a letter, an
    email, a telephone call, etc. In this so-called ‘age of comminication’ I find
    inter-personal communication of an increasingly low standard…on all levels and so people complain about feeling lonely (no-one- cares- about-me-syndrome), which I empathise with and therefore can understand why a lot of lonely people give-up on people and seek ‘surrogate company’ through TV, computer….very SAD state of affairs as are SO MANY in this day and age !!!
    I wonder if you, Keith, still have a SPARKLE in your eyes, still know how to DANCE, PLAY, be/remain SPONTANEOUS, LIGHTHEARTED despite all
    that bothers/concerns you (many others, incl. me TOO !!!) ? Do you know, realise ‘understand’ how ENERGY WORKS, i.e. on a human level ?
    And how con-centrating too much on negativity, all that is wrong, injust,
    needs saving, changing, etc., even with the best intention, creates negative energy/vibes…no wonder so many people
    feel worn-out, depressed, sad, etc….because of the collective/dense energy all around which affects every individual too. So, unless we bring our personal energy to a higher/lighter vibrational level…not easy, but possible…we shall, collectively REMAIN in the lower vibrations which will
    make us all more susceptible for mental, physical illness, accidents, bad
    luck, etc….By HELPING OURSELVES we have more energy to spend on CONTRIBUTING to the healing and welbeing of ALL, the WHOLE !!!
    Love Susan

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