Friday, October 15, 2010

come, sit awhile & let us read

On Wednesday, in our English class at university, we were thinking about children's literature. The first thing our teacher asked us to do was to think of a memory we hold of being read to as a child. We wrote down our memory of the name of the book, where we were at the time, and who was reading to us.

I have memories of books being an important part of our childhood. I say 'our childhood' because in some ways, it is impossible to separate my childhood from that of my siblings with whom I grew up with. No-one else shared the experiences we did together because they were unique to our family, and I love that. There were books everywhere in our home. I remember once, my older brother John, decided to count how many books we had. He stopped at 2000 I think. The books lined the picture rail in our hallway and every bookshelf had at least two rows of book per shelf. The memories I have of my Mother asking the question, 'has anyone seen my book?' are countless. She would walk around the house with her book & a cup of tea, rarely sitting down with them as she knew that if she sat down, she would get engrossed in the book and find it hard to get up. Still to this day, I am sure my Mother could quite happily live on a diet of books.

Even though books were a big feature of our lives, when I was asked to think of a memory of being read to, initially, only one memory came immediately to the forefront of my mind.

I remember our Mum reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe to John and I. We were sat either side of her, snuggled up in our parents' bed. I knew the story well, and I knew that at some point, the White Witch was going to appear and I still remember the feeling of fear in anticipation of her arrival. I remember thinking, 

'I don't know when she's going to come, but as soon as she does, I can hide under the covers, and I know that it will all be ok because Aslan will come and save the day.'

There was a deep comfort in knowing that Aslan would always appear in the story, just as I knew the White Witch always would. He was gentle, safe & powerful. I was amazed at my memory of the feelings I had experienced as our Mum read to us, not realising how deeply set in my memory such things could be. 

As I listened to the memories of my coursemates, I was reminded of other stories that featured in my childhood, which hadn't sprung to mind as I was trying to recall being read to; Memories of Hafferty Hamster, Millie Molly Mandy, Harry's Mad (our Year 3 teacher read this to us), Winnie the Pooh, Dogger, and so many other books that felt like true companions, allowing me to befriend them in my childlike way and read them over and over again.

I really do love children's stories & I hope for my collection of them to grow & grow, and to someday have children of my own to read to, that they might learn to love books too.

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