By Pamela Euckerman
When I was ten years old, we lived with my grandfather for seven months.
He lived in an old stone house surrounded by lush farmland in Cornwall, in the south of England. The house had once been a butter factory and in his younger days my grandfather ran a nursery—he had a shop room, greenhouses and what he called a ‘meadow’ (rows and rows of different varieties of trees).
It was a young girl’s dream—countryside to explore, lots of places to play hide and seek, a cubby house that my grandfather had built for my sister and I, and treasures to find in the old shop that was now a store room. We had very few toys or books there as most what we did own was in storage, waiting to be shipped to Australia (as were we). We were free to roam and when we’d exhausted ourselves outside, my favourite thing to do was to make my way to the bedroom hall.
There my grandfather kept a sideboard piled with books of all kinds that my sister and I were allowed to read as long as we treated them carefully. There were books about flowers and gardening, fishing, photography, geography, history and more. I felt that it was a great honour to be allowed to read those books of his and I learned more in a few months over summer than I probably would have that whole school year.
Apart from the benefits of allowing children to freely explore outdoors, the point of this article is this: by having a variety of books around the house, you are normalising reading and encouraging your child to read. With the lure of technology, this is more important than ever.
But don’t just store books like precious objects on a bookcase in a single room, they are much more inviting when you can see their covers and when they’re sitting casually on a table or shelf.
Reorganising them once in a while can help spark new interest, or support a child’s current
interest. Moving books around gives them a life and reminds children that they are not just part of the furniture.
Don’t stop there–keep books in the car, pack a couple when you go for appointments or for a train ride, maybe even keep a small pile in the bathroom– I did this when my boys were younger. These days, they will not get in the car without a graphic novel, magazine or non-fiction book, even if it’s a short journey.
You needn’t stick to children’s books. Include books about nature, geography, history, space, design, cooking, art, architecture, music; seasonal books, books related to current affairs, biographies, encyclopaedias, foreign language dictionaries, thesauruses.
Children seeing their parents reading also helps a great deal! Don’t wait until the children have gone to bed; fit time into your day for some quiet reading—maybe a book on home education or a topic you wish to explore with your kids. I recently read a book about the history of flags and then bought a flag game, so now I can provide interesting titbits about some of the flags while we play the game.
And for the grandparents out there, a selection of interesting books at your house might just one day be part of a strong, positive memory for your grandchildren.
Otherways 172 (May 2022)Last updated on