Some of the best friends I’ve ever made have lived in books.
As a child, my whole week was spent looking forward to library day. My mother would leave me in the library whilst she went shopping and I would spend at least an hour, roaming from shelf to shelf, deciding who would be coming home with me for the next seven days.
It was a huge decision.
The friends I brought home with me would influence my thoughts and actions for the entire week. Hidden on the shelves of my local library were adventures in lands I would never visit, with people who would stay with me for the rest of my life. It was thanks to these friends that I peered curiously in the back of my parents’ wardrobe, that I considered cutting off my hair to add to my pocket money and why I checked for wings on the legs of any passing rocking chair.
The friends that I made in my local library taught me right from wrong. They were the people I turned to for guidance and comfort, as I learned more about life. And it was because of these friends I learned to ask about the what ifs, because they took my young imagination and kept it safe within the pages of a book.
It was also thanks to these friends that I learned how to spell and read and write.
It’s a long time since I asked Aslan for advice. But I know he sits on the shelves of my local library, patiently waiting for a new generation of children to find him. If the government has its way, he may never be found. My heart aches for those children. To grow up without such good friends, to never search for Mr Toad on the riverbank or deliberately put your foot in a rabbit hole, is unthinkable.
A library ticket is more than just an exchange for a book. It’s a ticket to adventure, to friendships and stories you will treasure forever and it offers a path into adulthood which will shape your character like nothing else ever could.
And every child has a right to that.