One of most enduring memories from being a very young girl is being sat on my dad’s lap, listening to him reading from a massive hardback copy of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis. The book was simply beautiful – for those who have watched The Neverending Story, well, this book he read to me from was like the book from that film. Huge and leatherbound, with crackly pages. My dad did all the voices as well. He would read me just one chapter each night, and that was my favourite hour or so of the day. I actually looked forward to bedtime since I would have my one chapter before I went to bed.
Both my parents read, and encouraged me to read. They suggested books I might like, brought me my very first books, and read to me before bedtime until I was ready to read for myself. Considering the amount I now read, I was a late starter to reading for myself. I was in the remedial reading group – until one occasion when no one was around to read for me, and I picked my way through The Giant Pancake as I listened to the accompanying tape at the same time. From then on, something clicked with me and I was on my way.
So, my parents were definitely a factor in my reading. An early teacher of mine, in primary school, also contributed – Mr. Newton read to us each afternoon and one of the books he chose was The Island of Adventure by Enid Blyton. I adored Kiki the parrot, and the adventures of the four children had me on the very edge of my seat. After the third day of being read to, I begged my parents for a copy of the book (which they duly brought for me) and I read on by myself, entranced at the idea of a secret island and smugglers.
My favourite books when I was a young girl were any about horses – and my favourite series was those six books about the Silver Brumby by Elyne Mitchell. Once my dad went on a course from Germany to England (he was in the Forces in those days) and he brought me back the last two books to complete my collection. I still have them now – all gifts from my parents, much loved and dog eared, and still read today. Hopefully books to read to my own children – when/if I have them.
I wanted to share my love of reading so much, once I got started. I attended little book clubs at school; I spoke to my English teachers after class; I asked for book recommendations from anyone who I knew read. I even read to my little brother – any books that I loved, I would read to him. A chapter at a time, just the same as our parents read to me. We tackled Room 13 by Robert Swindells and The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann in that way.
So… I say thank you for the books to my parents, for giving me a love and appreciation for books. I say thank you to my enthusiastic primary and secondary school teachers, who introduced me to different books and showed me the school library! I say thank you to my brother for having the patience to listen to my reading *grin*. And I say thank you to all those authors – alive and dead – who have produced worlds of spellbinding wonder for me to enjoy. Thank you.