There was a nice feature in this morning’s Guardian where various writers looked back at childhood reading. Having kids of varying ages, but all keen readers, it’s something I’m interested in. The ways in which breadth of interests in reading prompt curiosity in various topics, that seeing other characters, other worlds, feed empathy. My middle child loves Jacqueline Wilson. there are nights where long after bed time she appears downstairs, in tears, book in hand. It’s Hettie Feather at the moment, whose life Story is provoking the sobs. “I had to keep reading. I Needed to know what happened.” My eldest goes through phases. He works his way through series, has to read all of them, in order. Harry Potter was a project. How to train your dragon another. It’s Philip Pulman now. He reads closely, spots inconsistencies. An editor’s eye. My youngest has started reading for herself in the past year. Her favourites, a series some would decry, Rainbow Magic – a series about two girls and their encounters with fairies with similar plots. But this familiarity is great. The Language is complex enough. Each plot has its scares where evil Jack Frost and his goblins steal or threaten. But each time he’s outdone, out thought by little girls who get their great ideas only a moment after the little reader. We’re lucky to live with a great range of children’s books available.
For me some books stand out. we had a few Ladybird books in the house. I remember lying in bed at home reading Ned the lonely donkey when I was small – a book with beautiful illustrations. When older I immersed myself in the moomin books. There was never anything as terrifying as the impact on moominland of the comet. What happens to the sea, and the animals, and all life as Moomintroll doesn’t know if the comet will hit, If it is the end of everything. There was no tension Like that of Blind flight, where a child was left at the controls of a light plane after a bird strikes the cockpit. And others: The Moon’s on fire, about the blitz; Emil and the detectives; Robert Westall’s Machine gunners; Asterix; Tintin; and Doctor Who novelisation after Doctor Who novelisation. You never Read as much again as you do when you’re young. You don’t have the time. Reading is never as much fun.
More’s the pity