“Somewhere inside of us is the power to change the world,” wrote Roald Dahl. And let’s face it with his magical stories still resonating with all of us years after they were first written, he knew what he was talking about.
Books are a portal to a different world. They fire up imaginations, help you to escape, and page by page enable you to become someone different, as you immerse yourself in each and every story.
So on this World Book Day when we’re hunting around for suitable costumes for the little people in our lives – should we not stop and think about the amazing effect that books are having on our children all of the time?
I would argue that the most powerful present you can ever buy someone is a book. Because not only do they entertain, but they allow you to imagine whole new worlds, become a character who can rule the world; a dragon, princess or a pirate.
Books are so much more than just for bedtime reading. They should be introduced to children from their very first moments so they come to associate them with time spent together and shared experiences.
One of the first books that I bought my son was an ABC book of Winnie the Pooh and before every morning nap, I used to sit him on my lap and take him through the pictures. He soon became very animated with turning the pages himself and pointing at what he saw.
We’ve since progressed to chapter style books; one of his favourite guilty pleasures at the moment is the Shifty McGifty and Slippery Sam adventures. Beautifully illustrated and longer than picture books, they hold his attention and I frequently get, “Again Mummy, again!” For my part, I continue for as long as my voice will allow me to.
The other day I came home from work to be greeted by a very excited three-year-old who threw his arms around me and said, “Pug hug!” For those of you not familiar with this, it’s a line taken from one of the aforementioned books. But it shows the power that books can have and how imaginations can grow and be nurtured.
Another big favourite since Christmas at our end has been The Highway Rat. J can now frequently be seen wearing what was once a pirate hat, a superhero cape and using a set of reigns (aka a former plastic golf buggy) crying out, “Ha!” as he chases us around the house. He has decided he wants to now be “a good rat” and return all the food previously taken from the travellers. I’m sure Julia Donaldson would be very proud.
Being able to read is a life skill and one that should be started as soon as possible. A love of books instils a love of learning and exploring the world around us.
As a child, I was lucky enough to have bookshelves crammed full of books and remember reading and re-reading all of the classic fairy tales again and again. Wouldn’t you rather your children chose to read a book rather than requesting to watch television or have screen time over and over again?
Having seen first-hand the profound effect that books can have on children, both at home and during school visits, has only reaffirmed my love for being a children’s author. My primary aim was always to help inspire children to have a love of books and the written word; passing on the love that was handed down to me.
I disagree with parents who say, “Oh they won’t understand books yet.” But who are we to decide when something might inspire them, or capture their attention?
I don’t think that children can ever be too young for books, to be introduced to new characters, and to explore the world through the safety of the written and pictorial world.
Start reading to them from the very beginning, and you too will be able to experience the magical world of stories through your own children’s eyes. It’s incredibly special and something which should be savoured every single day.
Happy World Book Day!