Sunday, July 09, 2006

Bedtime Story

"When I was child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child: but when I became a man I put away childish things."
And just why did you do that Paul? Even the Corinthians must have known that children have an insight into the ways of the world that is unhindered and unfettered by adultish things.
In the book world children are as discerning as their older counterparts.Children have an uncanny way of finding out for themselves.
At eleven, I can remember being holed up under the covers with Lady Chatterley and her less than suitable lover. My best friend, still keen on daylight reading, was enamoured with 'Stig of the Dump'. I am not sure that our reading ages were so different, in fact she went on to something brilliant in the city and I didn't.
What set us apart was our grounding - our reading roots. As a child, I can never remember a time when I did not fall asleep to the sound of my parents reading to me. Our house was full of books, from my Mum's beloved Catherine Cookson's to dad's crime novels. I read, my sister read and we discussed our favourites over meals (although I cannot remember discussing the steamier parts of Joseph Wambaugh's - The Choirboys, when mum discovered it under my pillow).
I was allowed to make my choices freely, a gift, alongside bedtime stories, I have passed to my own children. They make their own choices and myths and fears are laid to waste over the roast beef.
However, judging by the kind of adult that I have turned out to be, I can only wonder if my 'freedom to read' policy will one day lead them to the phychiatrists chair!!


pundy said...

Minx, if only more people were like your parents, this world would be a much, much better place. I can't think of a more idyllic childhood.

And it seems to me you've turned out to be a pretty good adult too. Did you encourage your children to read in the same way? I bet you did. I did, and it's probably the single best thing I did as a parent.

Unknown said...

Pundy, there should be laws about reading to your children. Of course I read to them, I passed the magick on.

They won't thank me for this but I'm going to tell you anyway...
About a year ago Small Fecker was ill and in a small voice asked for a story (he was 12). I was delighted and settled back into familiar Dr Seuss territory and started with 'The Lorax'. About half way through I noticed that Big F (15) had sneaked in and was listening at the bottom of the bed.

We are never too old for stories, those early memories hug us for life and I really can't wait for grandchildren now!!

(Goddess forbid - Grandma Minx - can you imagine!!!)

Susan said...

I don't think you'll be able to find a voice of dissent among this crowd, Grandma! I remember getting my first library card when I could barely print my name and I did nothing much other than read continuously as a child (much more than I do now - I seem to have lost the ability to find TIME to read now!) I was reading Faulkner at eleven or twelve and didn't get my hands onto a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover until I found it in someone's library while babysitting! I'd already read quite explicit books, so I recall my reaction to Chatterley was something along the lines of "that's not erotic, that's just gross!"

As for exposing my own children to reading, I did a top-notch job there! My daughter and I were discussing her love of books a while ago and she said that as a child she always just loved heading into a bookstore with me because she KNEW I would be buying her more books. I read to all of them and actually defined the role of Gollum - the movie character played it just the way I did! I always read to them until my throat got sore; sometimes I managed to go on for chapter after chapter. Honestly, I think a childhood exposure to books can be more enriching than a university degree.

Unknown said...

Pundy is right when he says the best thing you can do for your children, if nothing else, is to read to them. Without a love of books children find it very hard to read at all and let's face it, if we can't read, then everything else is fucked.

Everyday I read to 30 plus children who are under five. I know that for most of them this is the only time that they will be exposed to the magick.

Unknown said...

And Susan, I was 'borrowing' books from the library without a card - I always took them back though!!

Anonymous said...

Great post Minx! Let them read, discuss and read some more. Little minds have a enormous capacity, we can all hope that at least part of that absorbtion will come from books.

The lil dickens.

Anonymous said...

I was brought up on the Andy Capp cartoon strip in The Daily Mirror and the occasional Beano.

Maxine Clarke said...

Our house is so overflowing with books you wouldn't believe. I've always read to and encouraged my children to read and now they are as avid as me. I love buying them and me books from Amazon or bookshops. I have said to them that the great thing about reading is that nobody can control your imagination, it is the one place in the world where you are totally free to think anything you want with nobody knowing or interfering. You can follow your dreams in your reading. You can escape from any influence in your own narrow environment of family and school and locality, and go anywhere, be anything, imagine whatever you want.
Well, my droning seems to have worked because you can't get their noses out of books now. (they are also inot the internet, in Cathy's case Ipod, TV, movies, etc etc--- has not stopped them for one second from loving books.)

When I was young, reading was what made me happy. Quite often it was the only thing. And it is just as reliable as ever even though I am now 150. (when's my birthday, Minx, by the way?)

Unknown said...

Maxine, that would be the day that your mother gave birth to you, I think it usually is on this day, that's why it's called a birth-day!
Other than that, you should celebrate your IQ day Maxine, you'll be 151 IQ's next week. I don't get one of those, as a rule!!

Marie said...

I've always loved books and I'll read anything that falls into my hands. There's nothing better than escaping into an imaginary world where you can form your own images based on what you are reading. What I mean is, I'd rather read a book than watch a film where you don't have to try hard to picture things. I suppose that's why I'm a writer.

Maxine Clarke said...

Thanks for helping on the B-Day, Minx!

Anonymous said...

It's strange because I always read for my girls and we live in a house where there just isn't room for the books! You open cupboards - they fall out. You open drawers - they're in there. You get the picture, yes? And yet where one of them always has a book on the go, the other was never interested. Until about six months ago when her college tutor offered to lend her a book. Since then she'd devoured everything she's come over. But why? Was my influence not good enough? Should I sulk?