Tuesday, 30 March 2010

In which I ramble about authors, books, and why we read

I'm reading The Peverell Papers by Flora Thompson. Like Flora, my voracious appetite for books was satisfied by the local lending library. She had to wait until she was a married woman before she found a library through which she was allowed to browse the books.

As a primary school child, I read everything and anything that caught my interest, from the volumes of Oxford Myth and Lengends from around the world which lined the shelves in my Primary School library, through The Famous Five (watched the TV adaptation of Enid Blyton's biography last night) and Louisa May Alcott, to non-fiction books on astronomy and biographies of famous scientists available in the children's section of the lending library.

Terry Pratchett is another author who frequented the local lending library  and who attributes his education to the books he found there.

So why do we read? Why are stories (both fact and fiction) so important?

Here's what the three authors named above have to say on the matter

Pratchett: Our stories teach us how to live and how to maintain the important elements of our culture. We tell stories to our children that inform them how to be one of Us, rather than one of Them. And our children, in turn, pass them along to the next generation.

Blyton: Children want familiarity, they want reassurance. They want to feel they are safe and they want to know where they are.

Thompson: The discovery of each new writer, each set of new ideas, was the opening up of a new world.

The Peverell Papers takes me back to the familiar coutryside of my later childhood in the late 1950s and early 1960s, one in which I felt safe and knew who and where I was. I wonder where children find that today?

I found a copy of French Legends in the Oxford Series that will come in very handy on the French Waterways this season.