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Teaching a child to read stimulates their imagination and enables them to think beyond their own limitations, according to children's author, Nick Butterworth.
Mr Butterworth, famous for the much-loved series Percy the Park Keeper, was speaking at the opening of a nursery in Ipswich, designed with a library to inspire a love of reading in young children.
After unveiling the official plaque at The Lodge Day Nursery, the ‘Percy the Park Keeper’ author sat down to read some of his well-known titles to the children, including ‘The Hedgehog’s Balloon’.
The 71-year-old, who has sold more than 15 million books, said: “I was very honoured to be invited to open The Lodge and I was very impressed with what I’ve seen and how much care has gone into it, it seems such a happy place.
“It was a great pleasure to be with the children during the afternoon, they were so refreshing.”
Before the opening ceremony, Mr Butterworth spent time in Ipswich Prep School, where he gave a talk to parents on the importance of reading. He also talked to the children about how he writes stories and creates illustrations.
He said: “Sharing the joy of stories is more than just sharing books, it is sharing time. I don’t think there’s a more important investment in a child’s future than helping them learn to read. It stimulates their imaginations and opens them to the possibility of thinking beyond their own limitations.”
Commenting on Mr Butterworth’s visit to the nursery, Amanda Childs, head of Ipswich Prep, said: “His enthusiasm for stories was infectious, and his talks were enjoyed by pupils, parents, staff and visitors alike – we loved to hear his memories of reading and seeing him quickly sketch animals from a few squiggles on a page.
“With Christchurch Park at the end of the road, and with so many of the paintings on the walls of The Lodge reflecting the natural world including squirrels, hedgehogs and owls, it seemed very fitting that we asked Mr Butterworth to officially open our new nursery, placing reading and a love of books and learning at the heart of what we do with children here.”
The Lodge Day Nursery is the latest venture by Ipswich School and provides year-round, high-quality day care for children from three months to three years.
Originally the Adjutant’s house from the former army barracks in Ipswich, and in recent years an NHS clinic, the nursery retains a number of features such as fireplaces and windows to help create the home-from-home feel.
There are dedicated rooms for babies, including sleeping rooms with cots, and spacious rooms where the children can play and develop, providing them with stimulating spaces to learn and grow in.