It’s odd how books make a lasting impression on you. Even their titles do when you haven’t actually read the book. They conjure places you’ve never been, events you haven’t experienced, and characters you’ve never met – though you’ve probably met people like them.
I can remember my mother’s bookshelves when I was a child. No shiny paper covers, no paperbacks, but hardcover books, some with cloth covers, some leather-bound, some shiny cardboard, some thick, some thin, some tall, and some squat – a lot of poetry. But it was the titles stamped into the spines I found evocative. The Works of Francois Rabelais, (in the pages of which my brother and I found a fascinating exposition on the best material to use for toilet paper – dock leaves were mentioned, I believe) All Quiet on the Western Front, Between the Larch Woods and the Weir, Mrs Wiggs’ Cabbage Patch, The Works of Longfellow. And the authors names Bunyan, Flora Klickmann, HE Bates, Wilfred Owen, and many more.
I always had a bedtime story – Mum read from Hans Christian Anderson, The Girls Bumper Book of Fairytales, and Wind in the Willows, Dad recited The Jaberwocky from memory, complete with voices and actions – really scary. I still know it by heart.
At primary school, Friday afternoons were story time, the favourite time of the week, and our teacher read us the books of BB, a local author whose god-daughter was my next door neighbour. I grew up with The Little Grey Men, Down the Bright Stream, Brendon Chase, and all his other wonderful books inspired by places I knew in the Northamptonshire countryside. These books gave me a love of reading and an appreciation of the natural world. It also showed me how important it is to read to our children and pass on these loves.
As I grew up, there were always books for birthdays and Christmas, The Lord of the Rings Box Set was a 21st birthday present I still treasure, and my collection of books has grown during my life across most genres. I never once believed that I would join the ranks of those authors and have my own books in my bookshelf leaning up against the likes of Tolkien.
So for World Book Day, I’d like to thank my parents and my teacher for reading to me, and all those wonderful authors for enriching my life.