What Reading Means to Me, Part I: The Early Years

Reading has been ever-present in my life. It’s had a destructive, educational, and inspirational effect.

As a child my favourite time of day was bedtime. Supper was two biscuits and milk followed by fast teeth-brushing and then hopping into my Forever Friends covered single bed while anxiously waiting for my mother to squeeze in and join me. Every time she visited friends and family far away from home, leaving me in the incompetent hands of my father, she would apologise by bringing home Ladybird fairy tale books. Every night she’d read to me in various animated voices, firing up my imagination by breathing life into each character.

I felt sorry for The Ugly Duckling and cheered when he turned into a swan. I worried when Chicken Licken believed the sky was falling down. I was amazed at the Magic Porridge Pot‘s ability to save a hungry family from starvation, and was fascinated by the gothic Winnie the Witch. And I looked forward to winter when I could revel in the delightful rhyming verse of The Night Before Christmas, which I still read every year.

Thanks to my mother my reading age was far above that of the rest of my class at primary school so I was given more challenging reading material to satisfy my thirst for words. I moved on to Charlotte’s Web and Roald Dahl’s charming children’s novels such as Matilda, The Witches, The Twits, and Fantastic Mr. Fox.

In my pre-teens I dabbled with the multi-author Point Horror series and Terry Deary’s funny yet historically accurate Horrible Histories non-fiction series. Then, after reading those free books you received with magazines, I promptly rejected everything age-appropriate and read the very adult Does My Bum Look Big in This? (chick-lit), Sushi for Beginners (chick-lit), and The Best A Man Can Get (humour), the last of which I was appalled by – the male main character led two lives which included cheating on his wife.

Desperate to find something to pique my interest, reshape my opinions, and bring me joy and merriment, I thought that path pointed towards adult fiction. I just had no idea what was available, nor what would appeal to my tastes.

Stay tuned for Part II: The Teenage Years

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