Why do people not consider books important any more?

Research by the Literary Trust has formed the basis of a new investigation by the Evening Standard to avert the problem of illteracy in both adults and children in London.

There have been some shocking statistics published:
– 1 million people in London cannot read.
– 1 in 4 children who leaves primary school is way below the recommended reading age.
– 1 in 3 children grows up without a book of their own.

Add this to the current campaign to save many of our country’s libraries from closure, as councils feel the pinch of the Coalition’s spending cuts, and it’s clear there’s a real crisis when it comes to the humble book.

As someone who reads on average a book a week, I find it difficult to comprehend why people don’t want to sit down and read a book, or more importantly want to teach their kids how to read.

Quite aside from the relaxation aspect of being able to sit down and read, books allow people to develop their imaginations.

It’s no surprise that the Standard campaign notes that the proportion of electronic gadgets in bookless households is v high.

When it comes to kids, these gadgets represent a perfect way for parents to ‘entertain’ them without putting in the effort. You see, for kids to learn to read requires some sort of parental input.

Sure, schools are important but they don’t have the resource to carry out intensive one-to-one tutelage any more. Parents need to pick up the slack at home. I know that’s what my mum did.

As for adults not reading, I confess that baffles me more. Much of it is habit and if you don’t start young (see a pattern emerging here) you are less likely to continue as you get older.

Obviously there are more distractions now than, say, 20 years ago, but that’s a poor excuse, if you ask me. It’s all about encouragement, opportunity and education.

You see, once you start reading, it’s a hard habit to break.

Cycle hire is here in London – what it looks like

So the long-awaited Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme has finally launched today in London, promising to bring convenient and cheap cycling to anyone who wants it.

It just so happens that one of the Cycle Hire points is just opposite our office, so I trundled over there this morning before I started work to check out the set-up.

As you can see above, there’s a long row of bikes to hire – only three were ‘out’ when I got there this morning (on the assumption that the rack was full as it’s the first day).

Then, sited midway along the rack, comes the control post. On one side, it shows a map of where you are in London and the nearest other hire places, if this one is empty.


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On the most important side, is the tech bit allowing you to pay to unlock a bike and hire it, complete with the Code of Conduct.

It’ll be interesting to see how many bikes are used in the first month while you have to be fully registered.

Boris Johnson has already admitted there will be teething troubles, but I doubt these will become obvious until the service gets a high usage.

Meanwhile, it’s great to see that there’s already an Android app, helping you find your nearest hire point.

Posted via email from Rob’s stream of web

What the Dickens…!?

Little Dorrit CourtWorking in London Bridge area can be quite entertaining if you go for a wander at lunchtime.

Yesterday I went to get my shoes reheeled and found a wonderful old-fashioned cobblers.

Anyway, the point is that while I was walking to the aforementioned cobblers, I spotted lots of references to Charles Dickens, proving just how closely this area is linked to him.

Little Dorrit Court is just off Borough High Street, while Quilp Street (character from Old Curiosity Shop) is just round the corner.

There’s also Marshalsea Road – named after the debtors’ prison where Dickens’ father was held and also the focal point for Little Dorrit.

None of this is terribly new for some people, but I just like it because it shows that we at least try to preserve heritage in this country, even if most people don’t know it exists.