Sunday, 4 August 2013

Storytelling Sunday: A Love of Books

Today, I am joining in with Sian's Storytelling Sunday. On the first Sunday of each month, she urges us to think of the little things that are precious to us, things that are part of the fabric of our lives, and to tell the story behind them. Join her High in the Sky for more stories!

I am a reader. I always have been and I probably always will be. I was the child that begged for trips to the bookshop with its endless shelves of crisp new books, waiting to be discovered. I was the child that was lucky enough to be read to every night before I went to sleep. I was the child that hid under the covers of my bed, reading until the early hours by the faint light of a torch. I was the child that devoured books in a single night, my eyes skimming the words faster than I could turn the pages.

As I grew up, things didn't change all that much. Though school, university and now working life can sometimes get in the way, I always return to books. When worries and fears threaten and loom, a book can take me away to a place inside my imagination. I usually end up getting totally engrossed and reading for far longer than I had intended!

Now, I pretty much read anything and everything. Do I follow trends? Yes, I have to admit that if I see a book climbing the bestsellers list, I am always tempted to see what the fuss is about. So I recently read 'Gone Girl' and 'The Hunger Games', and I bought 'A Game of Thrones' yesterday. Jumping on the bandwagon, I know! However, I'll give anything a try, from thrillers and classics, to mysteries and girly romances, and everything in between. I don't generally reread books (with the exception of 'Harry Potter', obviously!) and a book called 'The Night Before Christmas' by Alice Taylor, which evocatively describes the traditions and joy of an old-style Irish family Christmas - I try to read it during the festive season every year.

When I began to think about which books are precious to me, childhood reads immediately came to mind. Nowadays, in an era of Kindles and readers and cheap paperbacks, books have almost become disposable to an extent. I find this sad. While I can see the advantages of a Kindle (and I was sorry I didn't have one with me on holidays as I get through books far too quickly), there's nothing like the feel of a book in your hands, turning those smooth pages, creasing the spine for the first time.

So these are some of the books that I had as a child, in the days before 'The Very Hungry Caterpillar' or 'The Gruffalo'. These are (some of the many) books that are battered and torn (some more than others!), and that I couldn't part with for the world. They certainly are more than precious to me, because each one brings with it a wealth of memories and stories, cuddles on the couch and sleepy bedtimes and reading lying on my tummy on the floor...
'Spot's Birthday Party', by Eric Hill: This beautiful hide and seek lift-the-flap book definitely falls into the category of very well read. It has been sellotaped together more times than I can imagine, especially all those flaps which were impatiently ripped up as opposed to gently lifted!

'The Elephant and the Bad Baby', by Elfrida Vipont and Raymond Briggs: This is another book embellished with trusty sellotape! A classic cumulative tale where one character chases after another and each page sees a new addition to the train, my favourite part of this book was the rumpeta rumpeta rumpeta refrain.

'The Tale of Georgie Grub', by Jeanne Willis: My Dad bought this book on a trip to America and brought it back as a gift when I was four. I can remember bringing it to school and asking my teacher to read it to the class. It's a fabulous rhyming cautionary story about a little boy who refuses to wash!

There were many more... Dr. Seuss' 'Cat in the Hat' and his other books, all the fairytales, 'Charlotte's Web', and later everything written by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Jacqueline Wilson was read. Books are precious. No question!

Sinéad xxx


  1. Elfrieda Vipoint was a Quaker and it always tickled me as a Quaker child to read it and see the elephant stealing. We have several well loved and repaired open the flap books here too :)

  2. Love this story about stories, it strikes a real chord with me. And for some reason I picture you reading The Shopping Basket, by John Burningham! I think it was first published in 1980. No idea why but maybe you did!
    Anyway, great post.

  3. I kept all mine and then read them to my children. Then 23 years ago I began reading them to my grandchildren. I have just introduced my youngest granddaughter to Enid Blyton and she is devouring them. I read from my copies, many of them I realise now are first editions so I have now given her a complete set of Famous five and Mallory Towers. Wonderful and so precious

  4. Yes, yes, yes and yes again! I read books under the bedcovers and saved up for my favourites and I grew up to be a librarian. You have got me excited for some of my old favourites all over again this morning..if I'm not very firm with myself, I'll spend the rest of the day curled up some Little House on the Prairie. Definitely precious..especially with the addition of some lovingly applied sellotape :)

  5. I was just like you as a child and so were my two children - I remember reading them that Spot book! My daughter loves reading so much she is taking a Creative Writing degree! Lovely to hear how oprecious books are to you - I couldn't imagine linger without them!

  6. I could have written the exact same post! Unfortunately I was the eldest of 5 so my childhood books were passed down until they fell apart and were thrown away :( I really enjoyed reading your post x

  7. I too was an avid reader and read under the covers. I only have one very old book from my childhood and it may feature as a precious in a future post!

  8. I have fond memories of reading too. My Dad couldn't read so from the age of about 6 I read to him! Now my children are total bookworms and I find myself shouting "for goodness sake put the book down and do x, y or z!" Such wonderful memories preserved in sellotape :-)

  9. I, too, was a nighttime reader, reading by the light of the moon when I should have been sleeping. I don't have any of the books from my own childhood, but have saved quite a collection of the ones we bought and read to our girls!

  10. I loved reading too but it was Ladybird books to begin with. My dad used to read to me at bedtime though and I have strong memories of him reading The Wind in the Willows. I too have read Gone Girl, it made beside myself with anger at the end! I haven't read The Hunger Games yet but it's on my list,
    Jo xxxx

  11. Hi Sinéad,
    I'm happy to "meet" another bookworm! Books rule! (my house especially). I don't know about you, but I never seem to have enough bookshelves. I have a childhood book from my grandma, so precious too! Thanks for your comment on my blog. xoxo from Bordeaux

  12. I love to read too and have been shying away from getting a Kindle. There is nothing like holding a book to read it, but for space saving a Kindle does sound nice. My cousin had the same spot book and I remember reading it to him over and over when he was little and I also read Georgie Grub. I don't ever remember not being able to read and can't imagine a life without books.