Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Reading Traditions: What Are Yours?

Peta Jinnath Andersen is an Online Consultant for Walker Books Australia. Her absolute, forever-and-ever favourite children's books are Guess How Much I Love You, A Bit Lost, Howl's Moving Castle, A Wrinkle in Time, A Monster Calls, and Winnie-the-Pooh. 

It was my son’s birthday recently; as always, I gave him books. (Books are included in pretty much every gift I ever give.) Friends of mine also gave him books – they have a lovely tradition of choosing a book each from their childhood, then passing it on.

While telling me about her book purchase, my friend told me how she had come to buy the book in a marvellous store, and spent quite some time perusing picture books on top of a stuffed mushroom, which took her straight back to reading time with her parents, and sharing that.

Reading time is always valuable; I have strong memories of reading with my parents, and later my grandparents and brother. I also have wonderful, candescent memories of reading with my son, from the first day of his life ‘til now. (I have read to him every day of his life.) But my friends’ tradition made me wonder: how many other reading and bookish traditions do we carry around as a culture? How many are centred around children, and children’s books?

My own personal habit – I have not been doing these long enough to name them tradition, I suspect – is to give a copy of Owl Babies to newborns, and The Witch of Blackbird Pond to teenage girls. My parents’ was to always read fairy tales, something I have continued with my son. Another friend listened to books on tape in the car on long journeys; her children now do this with their children. In our house, there are certain books we read regularly, or on a specific date, because they are meaningful (we read Owl Babies on Mir’s half-birthday; Julius Caesar on the Ides; Green Eggs and Ham for my birthday; Arabian Nights and Winnie-the-Pooh every August; and so many more).

Are there books you always give as gifts? Are there particular books you read, over and over? Or a special place that you read, or have read, with your children?

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