In recognition of the unintended damage caused to children’s literacy skills due to school closures, Labour Rep Chris O’Dwyer wants to unlock the untapped potential of libraries in Clondalkin as community hubs, calling for South Dublin local authority to provide membership cards to primary school children and invite them to choose a Book-to-Keep on their first visit.
O’Dwyer said: “Books are instrumental to unlocking a lifelong commitment to discovery and are central in the ongoing development of every person’s literacy skills. While all children’s literacy may be impacted by school closures and a lack of access to books, these closures have disproportionately hit disadvantaged and vulnerable students. “OECD studies show that poverty and low literacy are two sides of the same coin, and lead to the perpetuation of inequality later in life. That’s why we must be strategic about fixing literacy rates in Ireland and have a joined-up government approach on this, with a particular focus on people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“That’s why we must enhance the role of libraries as a community focal point. In a year where children have not had the same opportunity to browse the aisles of their school library, I want to see a scheme introduced to encourage children in Clondalkin to make a trip to their library to encourage a lifelong love for books. A tangible community approach, this will improve literacy skills in a targeted way. Providing each child with a membership card and the offer of a Book-to-Keep will stimulate community participation.
“In addition, we need to extend library opening hours, particularly at weekends when most people have the time to use and enjoy them. We need to rethink and reimagine the potential of our libraries which could be developed as local resource hubs for Clondalkin-Rathcoole for those seeking training, work and even to set up their own business
“We need to create a fairer starting point for children and help eradicate illiteracy through early intervention at the primary and secondary school level. Reading is for life, not just World Book Day. Let’s give every child in Ireland a right to read rooted in their local library.”