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When I was in Primary School I devoured books. Demolished them, absorbed them, inhaled them. I made my way through every Babysitter’s Club book, the Goosebumps Series and my mind boggled at the twist in every Paul Jennings short story.
I went to the library. A lot. I went there at lunch times in school when I was lonely. I went to the local one on weekends and school holidays. I reserved books that were new from a favourite writer and I carried piles of them in my arms when there was ‘extended borrowing’ over the Christmas break.
At home I would crawl under the covers and read for hours and hours on end. Sometimes I would have a book done back to back within a day or two. And when it was over? I would walk around aimlessly, the characters in my head. Sometimes I would write narratives in my head or turn any little bit of action in my day into a mental story line.
I’m pretty sure from mid-Primary school onwards I was reading books beyond my maturity level. I always wanted to read something challenging, beyond my years. As time went on I found myself reaching for my brother’s high school books they had read for English. I remember when my brother used to read To Kill a Mockingbird aloud. It will always be one of my favourite books and I’ve read it a ridiculous amount of times. There was one book I knew I shouldn’t be reading so I would slip it under my pillow and read bits of it when nobody was looking. It was Looking for Alibrandi and I was only in year 7 at the time.
I loved the dramas but horror had been my thing for quite some time. My brother bought me my first, and forever favourite Stephen King book. Desperation. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour. It is the most twisted, bizarre, horrific, most awesome book I have ever read. I went on to form a collection of Stephen King books, but none of them even come close to that one.
Today I took Tom to the library and my heart just about burst watching him borrow books. We have been to the library before but it’s been a while and I always got books for him and he didn’t have the language then to have a conversation with him about it.
Me: “Hey Tom, would you like to go to the library today?”
Me: “Yes, it’s a place where you can borrow some books and bring them home. Would you like that?”
Tom: “New books? Ohhh…YES”
And that’s how it went. As soon as we were in there I told him where to put the pile of books he wanted and a couple of times he crawled into my lap to flick through a few. The whole process lasted only about 15 minutes but gee it was good. He chatted to the librarian about the windy day and put his books into the bottom of the pram. As soon as we got home he wanted his new books and he wanted to share them with his brother.
I know about technology. I know apps and online books and kindle. But I also know books. The musty smell of old pages. The crawling into bed and reading until you can’t keep your eyes open any longer. The escapism that comes with good characterisation and the flick of pages. The hiding out in library corners and bringing home a pile of new books to conquer. You can’t beat that feeling. I want my kids to appreciate that. My Dad always took me to the library when I wanted to go. Kids will only know what you expose them to right? So I’m showing my kids books and libraries. Because to me, they will always be awesome.
Were you a complete book geek like me? Are you into online reading or still loving the ‘old fashioned’ pages?