Thursday, 6 March 2008

World Book Day

Two stories for World Book Day.

Doris Lessing

Last December, Doris Lessing was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In her acceptance speech she described a childhood in Africa which was not totally unlike mine, living in a house without electricity but full of books. She describes life in Zimbabwe today where children clamour for books and knowledge. "Please send us books, please send us books," while we in the developed world don't make the most of what we have and libraries are underused.**

As a result of her very moving speech, and in recognition of her prize, HarperCollins, the publishing house, has announced the donation of 10,000 books to Book Aid International for schools in Zimbabwe.

BookAid helping to make poverty history

Channel Four recently listed BookAid as the top way to help Make Poverty History on their website. As they say education whether formal or informal, can help people out of poverty, but nearly a million cannot read a book. In Africa few people own books and school text books are often shared between six pupils.

Providing books, information and so knowledge, to people in need helps them realise their potential and contribute to their communities.

**One disagreement with Doris Lessing

She said: "How will our lives, our way of thinking, be changed by this internet, which has seduced a whole generation with its inanities so that even quite reasonable people will confess that once they are hooked, it is hard to cut free, and they may find a whole day has passed in blogging etc."

I'm afraid I can't agree with that. The internet has opened up horizons we never knew existed a handful of years ago. We are communicating in ways that once couldn't have been understood, and where there is communication and exchange of ideas, there is education and understanding as we learn about each other.

Like anything, the internet may not be used to its full potential, or in trivial ways, or it may be used in unpleasant and disturbing ways, but on the whole, on balance, I will have to agree to differ with Doris Lessing.


  1. I disagree (although not wholly) as well. And certainly, not all that is published constitutes 'learning' or is even worth reading.

    btw, there is an update on the 'One Laptop Per Child' program in the April issue of Popular Science.

  2. I agree with your disagreement as well. Much like television or radio before it, the Internet is seen by many to be the end of all intelligent life. Well it does have its problems, but it also has great successes and great potential. It is a tool. How we use it and what we do with it is up to us. What it does is broaden the choice.

    But you always have to have books! A house without books is not a home.

  3. Thank you for drawing my attention to Book Aid. I have a 3 tall bookcase full of books, none of which I wish to part with just now, but I doubt that many would be of interest to my family, so I am going to ask them to donate them to Book Aid

  4. Thanks janeway. Is that the paper copy?

    I do agree Michael, I couldn't imagine life without books.

    That's great Elaine! It looks like we will be moving house soon, and I'll have to downsize the bookshelves.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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