In my life: first books

My parents believed strongly in the power of reading to support learning and thus education and thus success in life.  My mother told me that I fell in love with picture books well before I could speak, and learnt to read easily and quickly.

I was as scared as "Little Black Sambo" at the fierce tigers demanding clothes and other belongings. The tigers defeated themselved by their infighting and ended up as butter on pancakes ! 

This book was later issued as a vynl recording that Dad brought home from work at the World Record Club and included memorable songs to accompany the action. 
In this millenium, most parents would probably be afraid to be caught exposing their children to the streotypes used in the text and illustrations (while happily and subliminally replacing them with whatever were the currently acceptable stereotypes). 

I probably met "John and Betty" in grade 1 (age 6, 1960)

During grade 2-6 (age 7-11, 1961-1965), I began reading more and more independently and insatiably: Madeleine series (Bemelmans);  The Water Babies (Kingsley); The Borrowers (Norton); Charlotte's web (White); The Famous Five series (Blyton); The Chronicles of Narnia Series (Lewis); The Cossacks and "Save the Khan" (Bartos-Hoppner) etc etc etc.  

These titles are just some that spring immediately to mind, and some may have been read to me before i was an independent reader.  Each still evokes its particular excitement and desire to revisit - already with my children - and hopefully with my grandchildren.

Once I had mastered code of written language, the rewards were immense.  I had a ticket of entry into a seemingly limitless array of virtual worlds.  After being told to "go to bed" (from 1961 I had my own room), I would resume the adventure and read until I fell asleep.  The bed has been my preferred reading location all my life.  In recent decades, the text is usually displayed on my iPhone rather than on a paper page - and, as I get older, sleep interferes more quickly !

My wife, Lib, and I recognised the importance of encouraging and assisting our children to be skilled readers who love to read.  Unlike the learning of spoken language, there are no natural genetic structures to help the child, making parents so crucial.  We are delighted that our children made the most of this immense but intangible gift, and are passing on the same culteral advantage to our grandchildren.

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