‘When I Was Very Young, my Dad shared a world with me – the world of Winnie the Pooh. He read the stories to me, and the phrases (“A useful pot for putting things in”, “Time for a little something”, “A galoptious full up pot too”) became part of my vocabulary, as they had become part of his when he was small. These books gave me great pleasure, an enjoyment of quiet humour and an ear for the different ways in which people (and toys, of course) talk. I learnt about concrete poetry, imaginary places and how to play Pooh Sticks.’
This year, 2012, is the 20th anniversary of Bookstart – the world-renowned reading programme which gifts free books (30 million so far) to babies, toddlers and 3-year-olds.
You can be a part of the Bookstart 20th year celebrations by making a simple pledge: to share 20 books in 2012. The target is 10,000 pledges by the end of the year and they are tantalisingly close – at the time of writing, there were 9320 pledges. With your help, they can smash that barrier.
How can you share 20 books? Here are some ideas:
- read picture books with your own children or other members of your family, at bedtime or at any time! [we’ve got lots of those]
- read to a group of children in a school or a library [or bring your child to an Under 5s session and join in!]
- join a reading group [we’ve got some of those!]
- recommend books to your friends [and get them to join the library too]
- post a book review on a website [you can post book reviews on the Westminster library catalogue]
We’ve included a couple of stories from library staff about how someone sharing books with them made a difference – leave a comment and tell us your stories, we’d love to hear them.
‘When I was around 10 years old, I became seriously interested in ballet. My dad’s friends would sometimes brings presents for me, and these were often ballet books, beautifully illustrated with photographs of dancers and the stories of all the major classical ballets. I would spend hours poring over the pages, and I still remember the atmosphere of these books and how they’d carry me into another, magical world. I remember the smell of the paper and the exotic sound of the French terms for ballet steps. Arabesque! Pirouette! And the glamorous-sounding names of the Russian dancers… I started ballet classes and then saw ‘Swan Lake’ with Margot Fonteyn as Odette/Odile. Years later I attended dance school and performed professionally for several years.’
Sharing books can change things later in life too.
‘My teenage years were spent studying the sciences; I hadn’t time for poetry, or novels, or anything much to do with fiction. Then my younger sister shared The Golden Treasury of Poetry with me. The line illustrations by artist Joan Walsh Anglund fascinated me and I started to draw and copy them. The words and images drew me in further, many of them about magical faraway lands or strange situations. I became hooked on rhyming verse, especially nonsense poetry. I’ve since enjoyed the applied arts and sciences in equal measure.’