As we speak, there is a dire problem occurring across the South East.

Libraries are being set to close at an alarming and dangerous rate.

Currently, over a quarter of libraries in the South East are set to close, due to cuts from the central government leading to a lack of funding from East Sussex County Council.

This is appalling.

Reading is an absolutely crucial step in the mental and cultural development of young people, and has been proven in studies like the British Cohort Study, conducted in 1970, to enhance children’s communicational skills, vocabulary, empathy levels and even arithmetic skills.

With schemes like the Summer Reading Challenge set up by The Reading Agency in partnership with the East Sussex County Council and run annually since 1999, children have been able to visit their local libraries and gain rewards and certificates for reading across the summer holidays, allowing them to expand their literary horizons and learn to truly enjoy reading as a leisurely activity.

In 2014, the Summer Reading Challenge was participated in by 839,622 children across the country.

If libraries begin to close, this highly beneficial scheme may end up ceasing to exist, meaning many children in years to come may never gain a passion for reading like so many have before them at a young age, thanks to their local library.

With increasingly challenging GCSE papers and rising grade boundaries in English especially, it is essential that children are equipped with the skills that regular reading can give them, like speed and fluency reading and writing, comprehensive skills and sophisticated language and grammar use.

Without local libraries, many young people across the county will have no place to find stories to read – a high number of families simply cannot afford to buy books or travel to libraries further away, and a lot of schools are not lucky enough to have a library inside of it like Heathfield does.

As well as improving levels of mental skill in children, books can spark imagination in people that stays with them for life. Becoming engrossed in a story can transport you to anywhere in the Universe, at any time, and give you a chance to simply escape for a little while; without a local library, many children could never fully experience this thrill. I am certainly thankful for my local library in Mayfield for helping me to fall in love with reading at an early age.

As Pevensey Bay library is one of the libraries set to close, MP for Bexhill and Battle Huw Merriman held a meeting and banded passionate locals together to speak out against the proposals:

“I will be setting up a page on my website to help people find out about how to respond to the County Council’s consultation,” he said, “it is essential that if people want to keep their library that they make their voices heard.”

Having a local library can change a child’s life for the better. We cannot let such a privilege get taken away from us.

Abs Epstein - Heathfield Community College