Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Welcome to May! (and book memories....)

Welcome May! For the first time in a very long time, it almost felt like summer in Galway... absolutely beautiful, sun shining and warm! So many thoughts were turning to outside activities; gardening, cycling or just lying around soaking up the sun. (Well, in fairness, it's so seldom bright, sunny and warm....) And me.... well, my thoughts were turning towards.... books. I had a sudden childhood memory come back to me that I'd like to share that says something about me, children's books and being a children's bookseller... and the affect putting the right book at the right time into the hands of the right child can have throughout their life. I think so, anyway.
It was the first of May. I was just a small child; I think about 4 or 5 years old and had gone shopping with my mother. We were in 'People's Drug Store, which had a wonderful 2 aisle treasure trove for children.... cheap plastic toys, jars of 'bubbles' in various collurs and sizes, packets of balloons (which I always hated for some strange reason) and a flat shelf filled with Little Golden Books. My eyes and hands gravitated towards one particular book that I had never seen before; I Am A Bunny by a Olé Rissom; illustrated by a rather new artist called Richard Scarry. I just had to have that book, and I was very lucky, because neither of my parents ever said no to books. To this day, I still remember the story.... "I am a bunny. My name is Nicholas. I live in a hollow tree....'; and all I can say is something in there had a profound, yet subtle affect on me. It coloured my world view forever..... something about the smallness of Nicholas, his life through the seasons, noticing the details of the natural world and the simplicity of text... say who you are and be that.
This is what I think books do for children. It's not so much about learning to read and progressing in your literacy. That is almost secondary to the impact that even the simplest picturebook will have on a child. Because of the effect, because of the love of the book, because of the joy or the fascination of the book, the child learns to read; learns to be literate in a natural, unhurried and relaxed way. Nothing is forced.... and for the rest of their lives, these memories come back and foster something tangible. Even when you're old!
What was your first book memory? I hope it's a wonderful one!
Happy May!

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