(image from en.wikipedia.org)
I grew up with the Magic Faraway Tree [one of my little friends regularly turned up at fancy dress parties as the Saucepan Man], the Enchanted Wood, the Secret Seven and the Famous Five, and I moved on to Nancy Drew and her colleagues, the detective brothers whose name escapes me. I loved To Kill A Mockingbird when we did that for GCSE and I laboured my way through Shakespeare, found Virginia Woolf a bit strange, but Willa Cather more readable. Now I read for pleasure most of the time and enjoy the wild delights of Lee Child, Debbie Macomber, Miss Read, Sarah Morgan, Trisha Astley, Nora Roberts, Jane Green, Katie Fforde, Alexander McCall Smith, Stephenie Meyer, Elizabeth Chadwick and Phillipa Gregory.
(image from theguardian.co.uk)
I can't imagine not being able to read, to escape, to investigate, to discover, to love, to laugh, to enjoy and to find out, to travel and to imagine - reading opens so many doors, it takes my breath away. I have learned so much by being able to read, and through reading, I have discovered so many more opportunities. I am obviously one of the lucky ones.
(image from waterstones.co.uk)
The EFG learned to read at school, with a lot of input from us at home, from an early age. The YFG learned to read at home, and almost did it herself because we certainly didn't teach her in any structured way. She didn't go to school until Year4, but she was reading well by then. She read her first book to us one night at 11pm sitting on our bed, and she read it almost word perfectly. I can't remember the exact book, but I know that our friends Biff and Chip from the Magic Key were up to something exciting.
You don't have to be rich to be able to access books. There are wonderful libraries in most towns, and even here, where we have libraries available eight miles in each direction, we are blessed with a library bus in the village for over an hour twice a month, just like Frugal in Suffolk regularly posts.
Two things have happened this month to make me think about reading in a different light. One was Merry's post about the reading experiences of the poorest children in the country, and the other was our Ofsted report. The inspectors rightly recognised that parents are not having enough input into their children's reading development in some cases, and I think that that is so sad. Spending time with a child, with a book on their lap, is such a special time, that the parent is missing out on so much as well as the child. And, although I acknowledge what this Save the Children report has to say, I don't think that this lack is confined to the poorest children: plenty of wealthier parents still don't appreciate the impact of books and of reading in their child's life.
If any of you have ever watched Strictly Come Dancing, you will have seen the ending, where the presenters link arms and say, "Keeeeeep Dancing!" so I would like you to imagine that tone as I implore you to "Keeeeeeep Reading!"