All children under five in care in London should be sent a free book a month to boost their reading and prospects later in life, the Commons was being told today.
Well, that’ll get rid of a few more unsold Olympics tie-ins, I suppose…
Senior Labour MP John Healey urged Mayor Boris Johnson and his Labour challenger Ken Livingstone to back the Imagination Library scheme,already running in some parts of Britain.Mr Healey said it had significantly increased reading standards in his Rotherham constituency, where all under-fives – nearly 14,000 – are eligible. It has been running there since 2008 and those who take part outperform those who don’t by an average 6.6 per cent, he said.
Is that really a worthwhile investment? And can it be laid solely to the provision of these ‘free’ books? Or might there actually be other factors?
Before his Commons debate, Mr Healey said: “The Standard’s Get London Reading campaign is rightly and widely praised. But getting young kids to love reading often happens at home before school. Children in care can miss out. And once they fall behind, many never catch up again.” The scheme has already been rolled out on a smaller scale to Wigan, Luton and in Scotland.
So, how much does it cost?
He said it would cost £50,000 a year to provide books for 2,000 under-fives in care in London.
OK, well, it’s chickenfeed. But why should the taxpayer fund it?
Why doesn’t Mr Healey just ask publishing companies to donate remaindered children’s books, instead? Or would that not give the required level of political control over the content of those books, maybe?