|My favourite of the series (book 4)|
Reading for me, as for most people, is total escapism. It's quiet, it's at your own pace, you are in total control of where, how and what you read. Well, you should be. If you're not you might want to sort some issues out!
As a kid I remember being stuck into books all day long. In bed in the mornings before getting up for school, sometimes in school at break times, before, during and after my homework, and in the darkened bedroom at night until I fell asleep. Repeated daily for all of my life. My house had loads of books, many were from my aunt's bookshelves from the 60s and 70s, so I grew up reading some great classics.
|The Bobbsey twins.|
Fantasy in the form of The Cat in the Hat, Alice in Wonderland, The Neverending Story, The Hounds of the Morrigan, The Box of Delights, all of the Brother's Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson's gothic horror fairytales... All of these still give me shivers, and bring me to a magical place, as they did 25 years ago, and I suspend my disbelief and re-live my adventures again.
Kid's books written today are still as good as the ones of yesteryear. There are some fantastic new characters and series out there, I'm thinking of course of Harry Potter, but also Artemis Fowl, Skullduggery Pleasant, The Gruffalo etc, modern classics that have become staples on every bookshelf worth it's salt.
Books are the perfect present if you're not sure what to get a child. I'm not talking 3 words per page, lift-the-flap baby books. One or two of them in a house will suffice, they're not investments as I see it.
One of my favourite presents Charlie recieved for his naming day was a gorgeous hardback boxed complete Winnie The Pooh in one volume, with colour pictures. Even if it sits unread for a few years, a book is never wasted, it will be discovered, and loved, and part of a child's memories forever.
I've been collecting children's books forever. I still have all of mine, and have been buying more in my adult years, mostly from charity shops. A few were (cough) gifted from some primary schools I may have sub-bed in. We have some beautiful 1960s fairytale books, large with gorgeous illustrations, classic Ladybird books, some Little Golden books, and many books I'd forgotten about, but recognise, and snap up, in the hopes that someday my children will enter the same magical lands I did and we'll have that to talk about.
Dahl, King Dahl (Roald) how could I forget him?! I still remember sitting in my parent's car outside an Irish dancing feis at the age of 6 or 7 reading Danny the Champion of the World and loving every word. My favourite book of his is The Witches, it still scares me, especially the film version with Anjelica Houston which makes me laugh, cry and cringe even though I must have seen it 20 times. The film versions sometimes led me to the books, or sometimes vice-versa, but I would never call myself a fan of a story unless I'd read the original book it came from. (I'm talking to you, 10 year old boy who recently told me he was a Harry Potter fan "I've seen all the films"...)
When I reached about 11 or 12 I got into Judy Blume, read all her books, then the Babysitters Club and some Sweet Valley High. Then, influenced by some peers, or films in the cinema, I went on to Stephen King, Virginia Andrews, Christopher Pike, Tolkien and more adult books, and I started reading more non-fiction.
But those years between about 6 and 11 were the most magical. Fairies, goblins, dancing shoes, a sapphire-eyed statue of a prince, ogres and match-girls peopled my imagination, and fired my dreams.
I read without discrimination, skipping the words I didn't know, and getting the gist of it as I went along. I thought picturesque was pronounced "picture-skew", grotesque was "grot-skew" and Penelope was "pen-elope". I memorised passages like "Fury said to a mouse that he met in the house..." from Alice in Wonderland, I composed tunes for Winnie the Pooh's poems, I ate, slept and breathed every book I read.
I got in trouble (!) in primary school for being so immersed in a book that I didn't see the whole class had left the room at home-time, and I was the last one left there. Hmm, Teacher...
I will vet what my kids see on tv, I will vet what they do online. But I will not vet what they read. That is up to them. I don't think you can go wrong with a book, whatever it's content, if they can read it, they should be able to handle it's contents.
I even named my children after favourite characters in books from my childhood.
Books, books, books...
Not ebooks, real books. Books that go musty with age. Books you can dog-ear, kids can rip and you can tape back together. Books you can remove the flapping dust-jacket from. Books that you have to bend the spine thrice before it will let you read it properly. Books that fit into your handbag, that you find under the car-seat, that you find in an old box in the attic. And they wait for you; they're still the same, with the same stories to tell, predictable and lovely as an old friend.
It helps that I have a pretty bad memory, so re-reading a book is almost as exciting as reading it for the first time, I still get surprised at plot twists and shocked and scared and laugh in all the right places.
The only book I could never finish was:
|The Lord of the Rings|
If I'm reading a good book, I'll get it read in a night or two. I'll know in the first page if a book is going to hold my attention. If I'm dubious about it I'll read a chapter or two, but I have no problem putting it aside if it is pure drivel. Life's too short to read crap. And don't get me started on chick-lit. If the cover has mint/pink on it, or a line-drawing of a woman with a handbag, or "shopping" in the title I generally run a mile. Yes, I'm a book snob, and proud. I'll read one fiction book to 10 non-fictions, and have done so for the last 5 years or so. I detest parenting and baby books. I researched so much in my first pregnancy I should have the letters OB/GYN after my name. I seriously just stopped short of buying medical midwifery textbooks. So I overdosed, and have stayed clear ever since. With the exception of Steve Biddulph's Raising Boys, which you can read in an hour and is good for a clueless mother of boys. (Tells you how testosterone affects them, how they need to play, how their brains differ from girl's etc.)
BUT Facebook has all but killed off my reading, I'm seriously worried about my attention span at this stage. If I had an e-reader that had internet access I think I'd never read a book again. I'm hoping for a series of power cuts this winter, that force me to just sit down with a good book.
Oh, and I got a loan of Fifty Shades of Grey (rolls eyes). I'd always wanted to see what the fuss was about, and this copy handily falls open at the good parts. I did read the first three chapters or so, and was so blown away by the terrible turn of phrase, it was almost as bad as Twilight. So I skipped on to the good parts, and it just reminded me of all the Mills and Boons we used to sneak a look at as kids. Just a more modern setting.
Enough blathering, buy your kids some books!