June is the month to celebrate short stories in Africa, Short Story day Africa is 21 June, the shortest day of the year. Short Story Day Africa is asking writers to blog about our early memories of reading and what it meant to us. Here is my contribution.
What is your earliest memory of books and reading?
Like many people I grew up in a chaotic home where getting adults (busy with their own drama) to read to me was rare. But from a very young age I was interested in books. I remember sitting and looking at the pictures and the black squiggly marks at the bottom of the page, and thinking about how once I could decipher what those marks were all about I would have the keys to the universe.
It ended up being nearly the case.
As a small child, what book/s were your favourite?
I remember going to first grade and being so excited because finally I was going to learn to read. My life would change after that, I was sure of it.
The teacher brought out the reading books and we started learning- "Look. See Dick run. Run Dick run". It may have been one of the most soul crushing experiences of my life. This is what I'd been waiting for? This was the magical wisdom locked in those squiggly black marks? I was devastated.
But then we had our library day and I stumbled upon The Cat in the Hat. If ever there was a book absolutely suited to me this was it. A naughty cat leading kids astray when the parents were gone and in such fun, playful language. It was fantastic. And then I got it. The classroom was for the boring stuff- but the library was where they hid the exciting books. I've been hooked ever since.
Where did you grow up? Do you have a particular memory of a library, bookshop or other place of books in your hometown?
I grew up in Wisconsin in the United States in the country on a farm. My favourite time was when I'd be dropped in town at the public library. It was a great library with a very big kids' section. I remember you could only check out two books at a time. I would spend forever trying to find the exact two right books to checkout. It was a wonderful torture.
As an adult, in the role of parent or caregiver, what has been your experience of reading with children?
I remember when our kids were very young, both of them adored books with babies in which I found so interesting. We had two; one with photos and one beautiful book with illustrations of babies. I read those books over and over to them and they loved to sit and look at the pictures any chance they could get. I remember the photo book was so loved I had to cover the pages with transparent plastic to extend its life.