Monday, February 1, 2010

Start of the road

Since long before my daughter was born 14 months ago, I've been looking forward to reading to her. I even read to her while she was still in my tummy, just to give her a head start. And after she was born, I would lull her to sleep with a few chapters of Janet Evanovich so we could both enjoy what we were reading.

Needless to say Steph's antics with Lula, Morelli and Ranger are no longer sounding as sensible now she's started talking and repeating words... So, we've moved onto more appropriate things.

I can't even begin to tell you the importance of books in my family. My mother still has all the books she loved as a child, many of which belonged to *her* mother as a child and are now heading firmly for antique status. My mother has also hefted all of my childhood books around the world with her as my family moved from Holland to England to Indonesia and finally landed in Australia.

My husband comes from an identical background of international book obsessees, and we both worked in a bookstore while earning our respective university degrees.

Reading with dad at 4 months of age:

You will probably not be surprised to hear, therefore, that my rather tiny house is full to bursting with books at this point. The somewhat stunned removalists delivered no less than 14 bookshelves when we moved in last year, and books comprised more than half our home contents. When we tried to calculate the worth of all our books for removal insurance, it headed rapidly and scarily into the tens of thousands realm.

The first thing Sophie investigated when she learned to crawl- the bookshelves!

So, my daughter being born into this kind of family was always going to be a book lover herself. As predicted, she's obsessed with books, and demands to be read to day and night, carries books around the house with her, and even "reads" to herself (which mostly consists of opening a favourite book about pets, usually upside down, and pointing out the cats ("Meow!") and dogs ("Wu-wu!")).

Reading to herself:

But she does have some favourites- a few weeks ago, she got so obsessed with Spot Loves His Dad that I literally (I'm not kidding) locked it in the boot of the car for a couple of days to give us all a break. I think I must have read it forty times in one day at its peak popularity.

Intrigued by Big Bear and Little Bear:

Another of her favourites is a series of books I had as a kid- short stories called the Rainbow Books, which were popular when I was growing up in England. As I read these stories to her and watch her face light up with delight at the words; see her point to a now-familiar picture and say, "duck!" (one of her first words); and listen to her try to read along with me (usually this is something like, "Mwalalalablahhhblahgooglegoogle duck!") it makes me realise where my own love of words, language and writing arose.

These exact same storybooks captured my imagination long before I could read because my parents valued books and reading. Their enthusiasm and excitement for the same stories, their silly voices and sound effects- those were the first times I was swept away by a story and made to feel happy as a result of words and written images and characters.

The original and best- reading with Grandma:

As I grew up, my love of books only intensified. I was an obsessive reader throughout all my school years, reading dozens and dozens of books a year and tackling all kinds of books from my age range to way beyond. These days, the love affair continues unabated. There's absolutely nothing better than picking up a shiny new book, opening it up to the first page, smelling that new book smell, and beginning a journey of words.

I can already see that my daughter has commenced her genetically-determined book obsession, and I'm very pleased. Perhaps one day she'll walk the same road as me, spinning her love of words and stories into her own tall tales.

I think it's where every writer starts. Don't you?


  1. Tee hee, these pics are so cute, Claire. They remind me of my daughter. I have a picture of her at four months sitting up with a book in her lap "reading". To this day, she still "reads" stories to herself, which is to say, she looks and the pictures and makes up a story that she says aloud as she goes along. Budding writer? Or mommy's wishful thinking? The debate goes on. LOL.

  2. Lovely photos Claire! Especially the one of Sophie and her grandma - and the cat! :-)

    Your house sounds a lot like mine, and it also sounds like the house I gre up in; books everywhere. Isn't it nice to have the same books passed on from one generation to the next?

    Yet you never know; I turned into a voracious reader and a writer, while my sister... Sure, she reads, but not half at the rate I do and not with the same unquenchable zeal. And she doesn't write, she paints! Creativity will out, methinks :-)

  3. Can't access my email, but this message is for Claire. are ON! :)

  4. She's such a cutie, Claire!

    My kids were fascinated with books from the get-go, my oldest son in particular. His favourite way to spend time as a toddler was to empty our bookshelves and then pretend to read our paperbacks! The kid is eleven now, and is the most voracious reader, with close to 100 books on his own shelves. Great, isn't it?