Legacy matters, Baroness Benjamin tells BookTrust audience

News - Children Thursday, 11 October 2018

Discusses the impact of books as third BookTrust lecturer

Not owning books should be considered harmful to children's cultural development, Baroness (Floella) Benjamin OBE will tell an invited audience at the BookTrust annual lecture tonight (11 October).

Books should speak to children by understanding who they are, with relatable plots, and most importantly the characters should be recognisable and not just perpetuate stereotypes or caricatures, Baroness Benjamin will argue. There remained a shortage of books that reflected our multicultural society.

She says: "Legacy matters! When a book is created it can have a lasting impact on a child. We might not know their mental state, their circumstances and what reading the book may mean to them, but it is definitely shaping the blank canvas of a child's mind.

"And yet unbelievably some children have never even owned or read a book. That's why I passionately believe that denying them access to books is like starving them of creativity, stifling their imagination and dumping them into a cultural wasteland without a compass. This is why the work of BookTrust is so important, they put books in the hands of all children regardless of their background. Books and storytelling can take children to far flung lands, or on exciting adventures, they can offer comfort, a place for their minds to go, or provide a much-needed escape from abusive situations. The magnitude of this impact should not be overlooked or ignored because as I always say, childhood lasts a lifetime."

Baroness Benjamin is the third BookTrust lecturer, following Michael Morpurgo and Lauren Child.

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