SOME nursery and reception class children are so used to mobile phones and tablets they try to ‘swipe left’ to turn the page when first handed a book, a teachers’ conference heard.
For too many families, books are a luxury they cannot afford, delegates were told during a debate about cuts to public libraries.
Jennifer Bhambri-Lyte, a delegate from North Somerset, said: ‘Sharing a book brings parents and children together for precious moments. I’ve taught nursery and reception and I personally find it disturbing to see a child pick up a book and try to swipe left.’
She said there were ‘many people out there in our society who are quite literally drowning’ and that, for them, ‘the library is a pair of armbands’.
Delegates at the NUT section of the National Education Union conference in Brighton raised concerns about the ‘shocking hammering’ of library services in the past decade. Almost 900 had closed in that time, they were told. ‘A library can offer you free internet access to apply for that job. And when you can’t afford to heat your home, take your child to the library,’ said Ms Bhambri-Lyte.
An education department spokesman said: ‘Earlier this year, we announced a multi-million-pound fund to make sure pupils can master the basics of reading.’
School leaders are the best people to decide how to use funds to meet their pupils’ needs, such as providing school libraries, he said.