This Christmas, give a child a book and they may reap the many rewards that reading brings – Laura Waddell

If you’re inclined to make a charitable gesture this festive season, perhaps spurred on by the judgement of ghosts of Christmas past, consider the wonderful, thoughtful Christmas appeals from Booktrust and Scottish Book Trust.

Children who enjoy reading and writing tend to be happier and are more likely to have good mental well-being (Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)
Children who enjoy reading and writing tend to be happier and are more likely to have good mental well-being (Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

A donation as small as £5 goes towards sending a book parcel to a vulnerable child – BookTrust focusing on those in care, Scottish Book Trust working with foodbanks and community hubs.

Some of the children who have their day brightened by these gifts will be spending their first Christmas away from family; others will never have owned a book of their own before or been read to at bedtime.

Ultimately, it’s picturing a smile on children’s faces as they receive a happy Christmas surprise, and knowing how much meaning and pleasure books have given to me all my life, that gets me to give something to these appeals each year. (In fact, writing this reminded me to actually go and get my card out and spend the minute or so donating online, not least because I can’t let these words be published before I’ve honoured the commitment.)

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Book charities are, as you might imagine, particularly good at picking out colourful, fun books kids will enjoy and want to dive into, no matter their reading level.

Like puppies, books are for life, not just Christmas. They help kids develop the literacy and communication skills they’ll need to thrive all their lives – to get by day to day, to succeed in the workplace, and to pass down to their own children some day in the future.

That’s why literacy and book charities choose to work with disadvantaged communities where low literacy skills can be intergenerational. Research from the National Literacy Trust has revealed that “children who enjoy reading and writing are happier with their lives – three times more likely to have good mental well-being than children who don’t enjoy it”.

Literacy is a matter of equality: everyone deserves the same building blocks in their life.

Opening a book is like opening a door to the world: inside there is adventure, companionship, imagination, and travel. Books have given me all of that and more. It doesn’t cost much to pass the pleasure on to someone small who will really appreciate getting something nice in the post this Christmastime.

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