Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Books on the Bookshelf

So many people aren't interested in reading any more and that includes children.
My childhood was filled with books, and as many of you know I am still passionate about reading and frequently my posts on this blog are, in fact, about books.

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine who is a teacher and very much interested in literacy in children today. We had a very interesting discussion about the role books played in our growing up, including the types of books we each read and how we accessed them.

So I thought I would share some of my thoughts about how books have shaped my life.

I've always had access to books. We had a family shelf with books that had been given to us and bought by my parents - new and second had from Op Shops. They weren't always used for reading - sometimes a pile of them formed a stool to sit on or we would make them into the wall of a cubby house (large hardbacks were particularly good).

I remember my first school reader - it was about a fire station. I was so upset because the book had no words and I had already learned how to read before starting school (thanks Mum).

We were also given at least 1 book for each birthday and Christmas, so our piles of books grew and Dad kept making more bookshelves to house our growing collections. Novels, biographies and all sorts of non-fiction made up the books we had to choose from.

Family holidays meant travel, so books were also provided for us to read in the car. My grandparents also had books for us to read when we visited. I can still hear my grandmother's voice when I read Mr Bell's Fix-It Shop.

Trips to the town library were a common event - my brother, sister and I would ride our bikes down the street and get our fill of as many books as we could carry - my favourites were Baby Sitters Club series and a biography about Nancy Wake.

Travel was more extensive during my teen years as we had moved to Western Australia and summers frequently meant a road trip across the Nullabour Plain - 5 days in the car each way. Space was limited, so there were some favourite series that ended up coming along and being read each way. As soon as possible when we made it to Victoria we would head for the Op Shops to stock up on more books.

Books that were studied at school were a bit hit and miss - some were really interesting, others I wish I had never read because they were about awful topics that should not be forced on anyone.

However, in spite of that, I still read ... a lot!!

These were my bookshelves a few years ago. Now books are double stacked on many shelves and I have boxes of books that just don't fit. Mostly I buy my own books these days, although I do still get books sometimes for Christmas and birthdays.

One thing about my shelves and the books on them is that I frequently loan books to my family and friends. Growing up I often borrowed books from other people - family and friends. However these days when e-books are so popular, this practice of sharing books is becoming a memory, not common practice.

I think this is one of the sad things about technology. We can't share e-books with each other. All you can do is recommend them to your friends. Sure, they would have been more convenient when we travelled - we could have had more choices. But some of the books we bought half way through our trip were given to my cousins so that they could read them.

So what's your book story?
How did you have books available to you?

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