Saturday, 26 January 2013

A little light reading

A rather special thing happened this week. Well, it was wonderful to me but may well seem a little trivial to others. S started reading my library book and what's more she is thoroughly enjoying it, taking every opportunity she can to get back to the story including smuggling a torch under the bedclothes. This is a girl who despite being a good reader, preferred the limited scope of Captain Underpants and Humphrey Hamster.  Whilst I'm always pleased to see children reading, and I've nothing against these characters (well not Humphrey anyway) - or the over popular Jacqueline Wilson of which we have a whole dedicated shelf - I am delighted to see that she's crossed over to where the literary grass  is most definitely greener.  Now I can talk to her about it,  she discusses characters with me, makes predictions about what might happen and we have our own little mother daughter book club going on.

What a pleasure reading is.  After a stressful day I like nothing better than retreating with a good book to a cosy spot in front of the fire, though often I take said book up to the bath, another favourite reading location. Having on more than one occasion accidentally dropped it in, it's one of the main reasons I don't use a kindle!   I am also fond of reading in bed, while dunking chocolate biscuits in my coffee. When deeply engrossed, I sometimes turn the page before noticing the melted chocolate droppings then squished between the pages.  I'll say now that I am truly sorry, Dunbar Library, for the often interesting  state that I return books in. 

Look! Look!
I distinctly remember the process of learning to read.  It was something I desperately wanted to do long before starting school.  My mother read the same bedtime book over and over at my request and, having memorised it word for word, I set about using the book as my code breaker for others.  By the time I started school I was able to read books meant for older children and so I found the 1970s selection of picture books and pre-readers incredibly disappointing.  In particular the Janet and John series and the slightly later, and just as dreary, Peter and Jane were mind-numbingly dull (though now the illustrations have vintage appeal).  For those too young to be familiar with, or too old to remember, this depressing series then I'll explain.  These books supported the 'look and say' method of learning to read and consisted of endlessly repetitive sentences, 'Here is Jane', 'Look Jane is here', 'Here comes Jane', 'Look, Look, Peter. Can you see Jane?'   AAAaaarrgghhh! Wait, Peter has killed Jane for being sssoooo boring!

Ok that didn't happen but you get the idea. It doesn't surprise me at all to learn that the proponent of this torturous scheme, William Murray,  used to be the head of a school for the 'educationally subnormal'  (that really was the name of the school by the way not me being politically incorrect).
I don't think the man in the sweet shop should be trusted!

Fortunately, I was able to read a whole host of much more thrilling books at home; by thrilling I mean that they actually had a plot. (Take note, Mr Murray: 'Here is a plot', 'They have a plot', 'There was a plot!')  One of my absolute favourites was the classic series Little Grey Rabbit by Alison Uttley.  She is often confused with Beatrix Potter or Enid Blyton (who incidentally she knew and despised) but personally I think she has a far more magical way with words.  I recently bought a copy in a second hand bookstore and took a trip down  nostalgia lane, re-reading many of the stories I remember so fondly.

Apart from Rabbit herself there are the delights of Brock the Badger, Speckledy Hen and, how could I forget, little hedgehog Fuzzypeg. You would be forgiven for thinking that the author of these charming tales was as sweet and charitable as the characters she created but by all accounts she was a frightfully difficult woman, controlling and prone to jealous rages.  Nevermind, I will ignore the facts behind the creator and immerse myself again in Grey Rabbit's fluffy world; it's often much nicer than the real one.

Little Grey Rabbit helps Fuzzypeg who has managed to turn himself into a snowball


  1. You've brought back many early reading memories with that selection! Isn't it lovely when your children go on to read more adult books that you can then discuss with them Julie x

    1. It is, Julie, and I'm really looking forward to many more sophisticated books that I can now enjoy with both my girls. x

  2. I was an absolute bookworm when I was a child and still am - I'm really hoping to pass it onto my children too. It's funny how Enid Blyton and Alison Uttely, who in different ways wrote quite magical books were so difficult in reality. I always imagined Enid Blyton was completely amazing and lovely and remember being absolutely gobsmacked when I found out she wasn't!

    1. I did love The Faraway Tree when I was little - Enid Blyton certainly had a brilliant imagination. I used to stand at the end of our garden staring wistfully at the oak tree thinking that Saucepan man or Silky the fairy would be sure to appear!

  3. Hello there - thank you for the incredibly kind comment you left on my blog. I was very relieved to know that I hadn't totally misunderstood it! Thank you also for telling me about the Swedish "fika" - I love little snippets of information like that.

    I read voraciously as a child and studied English Literature at Uni but have sadly lost my reading mojo lately. My daughter is too young to share my books but I am thrilled and fascinated by watching her learn to read.

    Gillian x

  4. Isabella is just starting to read Nancy Drew and the Boxcar Children, which definitely brings back childhood memories. Its fun to see her enjoy similar books as I did when I was younger.