I am a young girl, immersed in a book. I sit underneath a large peppercorn tree, its expansive light green canopy overhead. The peppery scent is in my nostrils. The sunshine is dappled in here. It warms my toes, which I dangle outside the shade of the tree. As I settle, Magpies sing to me from the clothesline nearby. A dog barks somewhere in the distance. Once I enter the world of dragons, their noises fade. Here, in this country town I live in, there are no real sounds of traffic. There is a sense of the world being asleep much of the time. Nothing really happens. But here within this book, heroines and heroes are fighting to save their world. Silver rain falls from the skies. Time is running out. There are quests and dangerous journeys. I am taken deep inside their world, riding on the back of a sparkling dragon, born from an egg.
Once begun, I can not break myself out of this fantasy. I read, even as I walk. The fantastical beasts and possibilities of another place, open my mind to ideas. I am given shelter here from the things in life that are hurting me, yet through these stories I am also given tools to deal with these. I am entertained, delighted, impressed. My emotions tumble along, riding a rollercoaster. I am growing my brain and widening my heart.
This is the world of books.
“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast – Alice in Alice in Wonderland.”
If you have never been a bookish person, that is cool. But if you have never given yourself the opportunity to dive into a book, please take a chance. Like anything, books are subjective – a story that held me riveted, might have no interest at all for you. That is true diversity. There is plenty of room for all sorts of books. The world can ever-expand to fit all of the old, and all of the new stories within it. There are lots of ways to enjoy books – audio books are increasingly popular. Our 10 year old reads a book before going to sleep and then turns on his stories on CD.
For children, books entertain and teach them in ways that are not possible in other art forms. While all art forms matter and are important, in books, you create your own versions of the stories and how they play out. Even when there are illustrations, you imagine the characters moving, living the stories. Books allow you to create your versions of the events and settings. They are also often more detailed than movies, and can lead you through the story as if you were the main character. Books make you think and process mulitple pieces of information.
There are no particular types of books that ‘should’ be read, or books that are ‘better’ than others. If you or your child enjoy non-fiction, read non-fiction. If you or your child enjoy graphic novels, read graphic novels. If you or your child enjoy sci-fi or fantasty or romance or whatever it is – then go read that. Don’t be a book snob. It is not about what you read, but that you read. And most definitely read to and with your children from the day they are born. Encourage a love of stories and books, in multiple ways.
There is something for everyone. Books help you through dark times. They tell stories of places you have never seen, and people you have never met. Books teach you things about the world and pathways in life. They entertain you, shock you and inspire you. Books can be your best friend. They open your mind to new possibilities, improve your understanding of life, increase your imagination, decrease your stress and get you off social media and television for while. Books take you away from your worries, remind you of the great things about people and our world, and give you hope.
What is next on your reading list?