This photo is forty odd years old, I’m the one with the severe bowl cut and the very, very puffy sleeves. My younger sister will probably kill me, if she ever decides to read my blog, for putting this little beauty up. I could not resist, as today I went back in time. I thought about my passion for reading, it has been with me all my life. As a child you would find me with my nose in a book, more often than not.
My sister and I were shy creatures, even though we were from a big family of nine children. If somebody turned up at the door, I would scuttle off to my room and wait to see who it was before I decided whether I wanted to say hello. The local newspaper photographer was in the area on that particular day. He noticed the children playing in the buttercups and tried to get our attention. I can’t remember if this picture ever went in the newspaper. I think he had a hard time getting a smile and in the end, the boy next door came over to play, he owned a giant grin and the photographer used him instead. We were far too busy playing with the flowers, or dreaming up mermaid stories to accommodate the pestering stranger.
My daughter asked me after looking at this old photo (as she called it) “What were you reading at my age Mum?” I told her I was probably reading Alice in Wonderland and that things were very different for ten-year-old’s back then. My appetite for reading fantasy grew and never stopped growing. I told her that children today are so lucky to have Harry Potter, I would have adored those books at that age. I added that we did not have the luxury of choice, or the option to see the movies first. She is far more advanced in what she reads than I, at the same age.
If I went even further back I recall my weekly visit to the library, it was like going to Disneyland for me. Well not quite, after I actually went to Disneyland, but I told my daughter it all started at the library. I still get excited when I go with the children, the library has a distinct book smell that I use to love as a kid and still do, forever the bookworm.
My love for picture books like Where the wild things are by (Maurice Sendak), will never leave me, I guess it is because of the adventures I set out on. I use to imagine my bedroom would turn into the forest at night and I could sneak a peek at the monsters, not get as close as Max, but close enough to see them for real. Those pictures are still some of my favourite illustrations and probably the reason I started drawing in the first place.
As I went into adulthood my hunger for reading never slowed and I still read every night and usually have about three books on my bedside table. Our children, especially my daughter loves books.
When they were babies I made sure I read to them every night at bedtime, mostly I started with the classics from The very hungry caterpillar to Dr Sues and the forever brave Pippy Longstocking.
I still collect picture books, it’s a passion of mine, due to appreciating the illustrations and my back ground in Graphic Design, it inspires me to think about my picture book ideas.
The one thing that I realised in my conversation about reading with my daughter was that she is reading the classics, The Lord of the Rings and Narnia, along with the popular fiction of today. She swears the classics are some of the best stories she has ever read. After finishing the Hobbit she handed it to my Mother, her Nan and said “You really should read this Nan, you will love Smeagle.”
My Mother replied “I’m in my seventies and I think it’s about time I did.” She is also a passionate reader. One memory I will cherish is when the Hobbit came out at the movies. We had three generations, my daughter, my sister, my Mother and me sitting together and enjoying a timeless story.
So I guess children today are not that different to us, when we were kids. They still cheer for the hero and hope the evil villain gets what he or she deserves. They still play make-believe games with mermaids and dragons and sit in the fields and play among the buttercups with their siblings and cousins.
What is your favourite children’s book the one that opened your eyes to reading or actually wanting to write. I would love for you to share your memories here.