It’s not often we go shopping in the real world as a family, not with toddlers, but one shop quick to welcome little ones is The Book House in Thame.
A lovely local shop, it is brim-full with enticing books for all ages, the staff are quick to welcome and to offer help if needed. We were in there this week and as my little boy rooted around in the children’s room, I chanced on a copy of Alan Garner’s ‘The Weirdstone of Brisingamen’..
A sudden intake of breath and I was transported back to days when the highlight of my week was Saturday library trips with my big sister where she waited patiently while I loaded my card up with as many books as I could before we walked home sharing a pasty. Saturday afternoons I sat down and read every book, some more than once.
Then there was the time my favourite uncle took me to a bookshop and told my seven-year old self I could have anything I wanted in the shop – then he waited, also very patiently, while I chose a small paperback copy of ‘The Princess and the Goblin’ by George McDonald.
The memories are clear in my head, and a bookshop’s heady atmosphere, typified by The Book House had me addicted for life. For me this led on to a degree in English, a living room bookshelf reluctantly shared, and a dedication to literary fiction that has not entirely been subsumed by my equal dedication to two small children.
Reading ‘A Necklace of Raindrops’ by Joan Aiken with my little girl brought tears, as it reminded me of how much that book, borrowed carefully from the library again and again, meant for me.
Trying to replicate the bookshop experience online, the best site I have found for recommendations and tasters of children’s books is Love Reading 4 Kids, we spend a lot of time testing out books to see if we like them before buying. The real value of the site is that they only feature books they have read and enjoyed, all targeted by age, and they can recommend books based on the last book enjoyed – just like a real bookseller would.
Reading is a big part of our life as a family, and I am hoping this stays with my children as they grow and make their own choices. For now, I am off to read them one of my old favourites – why don’t you do the same?