It is the middle of the spring school holidays and, like many parents, I am juggling work, study and entertaining two children. However, this juggle has become easier as they get older - and one of the main reasons for this is my sons’ eagerness to read.
Last week we made our regular school holiday trip to Launceston LINC to stock up on books and DVDs for the fortnight. Each chose books by authors they had already read and enjoyed. For Mr 10 this was Back in Time: The Second Journey Through Time by Geronimo Stilton and You Choose Batman: Seed Bank Heist by J E Bright. His younger brother selected two books from The Rescue Princesses series - The Silver Locket and The Stolen Crystals - by Paula Harrison.
As an adult I seek out books by authors I like, but I don’t think I started that until I was older than my sons are now. I’m delighted they already have a handful of authors they love. All over the library children were doing the same: finding books they couldn’t way to get home to read. I know that feeling well, and it reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman, about the wonder of reading:
“[D]on't ever apologise to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that's what they're there for. Use your library). Don't apologise to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend's copy. What's important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read...”
Every time one of my children tells me a fact they learned that day from reading a book, or one of my The Write Road student writers tells me about a piece of writing that captivated them I am thrilled, because it shows they know the same truth I do: reading is a gift.
There are always going to be lists of the best books for children, which are excellent guides for parents, but I believe it really doesn’t matter what children are reading, as long as they are. Reading instils knowledge (even if you’re reading the ingredient list of the cereal you ate for breakfast) and that knowledge breeds a thirst for more. Plus the ability to read means you will always have in-built entertainment. That’s a win-win in my book.
Johanna is a freelance journalist and author of the book Business & Baby on Board.