I am a reader. I don’t mind how or where I read a book as long as I can lose myself in a story. Reading allows me to escape to another time and place; makes me gasp, cry or laugh; makes me think about how I would act in a similar situation; or takes me on a journey that otherwise I would never have experienced. Books in all their methods of delivery inform and excite, propel us to action, take us to places we might not otherwise reach and give us insights into other cultures and ways of living.
I come from a family of readers and I’ve always treasured books. My grandfather was a printer and the first thing he’d do when he picked up a book was look at the imprint page and see where it had been printed. Old habits die hard and this quirk of behaviour was passed down to my father and now to me! A lively discussion would often ensue about the printer and whether he, my grandfather, thought they had done a good job or not – usually he thought not!
Books punctuate our lives and shape our view of the world and the books I read when I was young were anchored in the area I grew up in (north of the Lake District in the North of England). I’d spend afternoons looking for Mrs Tiggywinkle and Lucie at Little-Farm and go on adventures inspired by Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons. Birthdays and Christmases were celebrated with a crisp shiny book token, a bit like winning Charlie’s golden ticket, that could be traded for the next Enid Blyton or Bronte.
Now, with children of my own, it’s lovely to be able to pass on those stories to them, but also share with them a much bigger selection of books from around the world. There are so many beautiful picture books for them to dive into with incredible illustrations. They can go off on adventures with beasts and dragons, pirates and explorers, and through words and pictures they can also learn about life and loss, the importance of having somewhere to call home and what friendship is all about. Now as the eldest one embarks on chapter books we are finding out about nannies who are pigs (we want one) and schools for spies.
As a reader of any age the thrill of discovering your next book and author is one of the best things in life. Whether it’s through word-of-mouth, your local bookseller, a blog or you just get lucky, there’s no feeling like it. And that for me is what books are all about – when you open a book and turn to the first page you are on the tarmac, waiting to take off – you are about to be transported to another world. It has the power to leave you emotionally wrung out, or uplifted, it can inspire you, challenge you, or just let you escape from the piles of washing and unmade beds. It’s a magical feeling.