If you have a garden and a library,

… you have everything you need. So said Cicero, and so, it seems, the Carnegie Library in London…

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I visited this library on Wednesday to sit on a session of the adult literacy group, the Ruskin Readers. But first, I couldn’t resist a quick peek at the ‘Reading Garden’. Admittedly it wasn’t the perfect day to take a book out to read, but I could just imagine doing so in the sunshine. Perfect! Lots of different places dotted round to sit and dream over the words.

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For all these reasons and more, the Carnegie Library is the perfect place for the Ruskin Readers to meet. This is a wonderful group where volunteers work on a one-to-one basis to help adults with reading and writing difficulties learn to read. It’s something I’m passionate about – particularly after hearing so many stories of the shame adults can feel when they can’t read or write, sometimes through no fault of their own. Caroline, who runs Ruskin Readers, said that their ‘readers’ may be dyslexic, left school to be carers or wage-earners, just not had the particular support they needed, or moved to this country and didn’t have the opportunity to learn until now. One reader I spoke to had come from Iran after many years in the merchant navy and he wasn’t the only person I spoke to who said the sessions with Ruskin Readers had changed his life.

And it wasn’t surprising. Just imagine how much we take for granted. All these wonderful opportunities as you enter the library, for instance.

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Not to mention the many possible worlds you can step into once you go inside…

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Here’s a poem I wrote for the Ruskin Readers…
WHY
In some circumstances, a y
sounds like an i,
put two consonants together
to feel your tongue moving forwards.
DRY
After a life on shifting sea, his son
asks him, why bother, but he’s pinning
himself down to this new country,
word by word by word.
CRY
She asks why should others miss out
on the pleasure she’s got from books,
andI see Dorothea, Elizabeth Bennett,
even Heathcliffe draw their chairs up,
sounding the letters silently with her
as she listens, explains, listens, corrects.
FLY
Listen to these scribbles on the page,
read the pictures with me,
we’re moving through the days here:
Tuesday, Wednesday, Sunday.
SLY
I agree it doesn’t always make sense,
the words are moving too quickly,
out of reach, just like our days,
and yes, days
is a different kind of Y.
Let’s try again.

 

4 thoughts on “If you have a garden and a library,

  1. What a coincidence! I quoted this to a friend on Tuesday evening. We were in Midsomer Norton library for a concert, so perhaps Cicero should have added music to his list… oh and the tea, coffee and biscuits that were served. It was heart warming to see the space being used as a community resource.

  2. Pingback: A little (more) love for libraries | Sarah Salway

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