To celebrate world book day I am thinking about what books mean to me, and where my bookishness started.
As a child I wasn’t particularly gifted or academic at school – I didn’t much like school either. However I had learned to read early – before I ever went to school – and having discovered reading I was off. Working with young children now – I so love seeing those children for whom reading is an obvious pleasure. Sadly few children these days seem to have that all-encompassing book obsession that I enjoyed – the world is a different place I know, and there are so many distractions. I can remember being written off by teachers – many made assumptions and didn’t get to know me properly –but there were one or two teachers who realised I was a bookworm, knew how I read and read, that I understood what I read and got a lot out of it. I couldn’t do maths, science was something of a mystery and I hardly excelled in anything else – but books I understood. I try to remember there are going to be children like that now, funny little misfits – who struggle to gel with the rest of their peers, but who are happy when buried in a book or a comic.
So what do books mean to me now? Books have always been my friends, I’m sure that is something many readers can identify with. Books are my release, my relaxation and my obsession, a room that has well stocked bookshelves in it – is a room with soul, a place of calm, and a place I want to linger. I’m a fiction lover first and foremost, although I am trying to read more non-fiction. I adore how well written prose can transport a reader, entering a tired mind and lifting it. Over the years I have had a variety of bookish obsessions and phases, I have had a few classics phases, India set books, a cosy mysteries, booker winners, have all at some time or another been my obsession of the moment. The internet has – over the last seven or eight years helped me enormously in those obsessions. The discovery of bookcrossing.com – through which I made a lot of good friends – Librarything, Goodreads and of course blogging has made reading much less of a solitary pursuit than it once was. How lovely that so many readers like talking about books, swapping books, and generally aiding and abetting other book nuts – it only adds to the pleasure of finishing one great book – and picking up the next.
Today at school the children will be celebrating world book day with a book quiz. Each year group have had a book to get to know really well. We have had a week to share the book chosen with the children, talking about it and going over it lots of times. Our children in year 2 have been getting to know a retold picture book version of ‘The Secret Garden’; some of them have had a job trying to remember the names Frances Hodgson Burnett, Misselthwaite Manor and Archibald Craven. I have felt quite nostalgic for the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel that I read so very many years ago. What a delightful story it still is.