Do our efforts bear fruit? What difference do they make? Here is a little bit of the amazing feedback we have received.
The books we had on our shelves before were worn-out and showed signs of rough treatment, for example when the children, at times, get frustrated and throw stuff around. When Read for Your Life wrote to us that we would be receiving a library – approximately 500 books – we were completely overwhelmed, and everyone, including the children, was overwhelmed with delight. We decided to buy new bookcases, get rid of all of the worn-out books, except for a few much-loved favorites, so we could give our new library a proper welcome. There was a lot of excitement when the boxes were opened and emptied for books. The kids helped sort them into picture books, read-aloud books, young adult books etc. and put them in the bookcases. They frequently got stuck, because they just had to look and just had to read. The books are being used a lot. We adults now read many more bedtime stories, and the kids choose books to take to their rooms. I’ve heard them say: ‘Wow, imagine that people would give us all those books. It’s just so nice of them’, ‘We’re so lucky that they gave us so many cool and good books’ or ‘Now I really feel like reading because the books are so nice. I didn’t before because there was always a page missing, or there were boogers in them.’ It’s definitely been our experience that the kids take care of these books in a really different way. They scold each other, if the books are in a mess on the floor, and they really want to take good care of them. Even in conflict situations, the books are useful as a way of shifting focus – for example by saying: ‘Come on, let’s look at this book.’”
We’ve had the library for over a year now. We have very nice house and lovely children, who all have become pretty good readers – and they’re getting better and better. We’re convinced that this is because there’s always an exciting book on the shelf – just there for the taking and reading. Our youngest child just ‘bragged’ at school about how many books he now knows. The oldest recently compared a short story to different books and got a good grade, and one of the other boys read more than the required curriculum. One of our oldest girls has had a lot of trouble learning Danish, falling behind in the subject at school so she wasn’t very interested in reading when we first got to know her. We’ve read to her and with her, and she’s come a really long way. The other day, she once again said: ‘I love being read bedtime stories, because nobody ever did that, when I was little, and now I enjoy it so much – that there’s time for me.’ Hearing that just makes you feel so good.
After we received our library, our kids have started to read more by themselves and have grown more curious about storytelling. On top of that, we adults read more with the children, because the books are right there, and we don’t have to go to the library first. Reading with the children gives us more meaningful time together, and more dialogue – about the story, but also the impressions, thoughts and ideas that come up. It’s very enjoyable and inspirational. When a child has a challenging day, we have observed that especially reading can have a calming influence and turn a bad mood around, making it easier to get through the rest of the day.