Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Bedtime Story

Clicking the link to Sepia Saturday will show you this week's picture prompt; an Australian magazine cover from the 1930s, called the Queenslander Illustrated Weekly, and priced at 6d. Alan suggests any number of hidden themes to be found there, and I have chosen 'young ladies' and a ‘reading a good story’ as my own themes this week.

The picture above is a five year-old young lady - me, photographed reading a bedtime story to one of my very favourite soft toys, my Golly. Sensitive readers must excuse his inclusion on the grounds that: a) this was the 1950s when he was still thought of as a harmless manifestation of popular children’s storybook characters, and b) I loved him, quite literally, to pieces. He was as dear to me as Blue Bunny was, first to my son and then to my grandson. I wouldn’t want to own one now but I’m not going to airbrush him out of my childhood. My Dad would have taken this picture and I wonder what made him choose to capture that moment, the precious half hour before bedtime, reading in the glow of the firelight, before going up to bed and having another good story, either Mrs Tiggywinkle or other Beatrix Potter stories, read by my Mum, or a Freddie and Flossie Frog story, made up by Dad as he went along.

And here I am with little friend Gillian, doing the next best thing to reading alone - sharing a book with a friend. As a primary school teacher, and headteacher, this is a pose I would often witness in 'The Book Corner', and although these days children are just as likely to be huddled together over the iPad, the magic of a good story is unbeatable. This was a sunny day, hence my trendy shirred swimsuit, and the garden deckchair has been dusted off and put to good use by two little girls lost in a book.
I don’t have any pictures of my Mum reading, but here she is (second row, first right) in her primary School classroom in the 1920s. Reading doesn’t look nearly as much fun in this formally posed picture, but my Mum, now aged 90, assures me that it was. She first heard her favourite, The Wind in the Willows, read aloud by her teacher, in chapters at the end of the day, instilling in Mum a lifelong love of good stories. Mum is an avid reader of fiction and poetry to this day, and reads far faster than I ever can. I asked her what her other stories she enjoyed when she was a youngster. 'Martin Rattler, the Adventures of a Boy in the Forests of Brazil', by R.M. Ballantyne, was top of the list and she loved the Grimms and Hans Christian Anderson stories, which she would read by the light of a Tilley Lamp in bed.

My own daughter followed in the family tradition, and devoured books from an early age. She both reads and writes good stories and poems, in which her love of words shines through. She too had a much loved Golly, made by me, and she wasn’t at all put off when reading the stories of Enid Blyton, who painted him as a mischievous, sometimes sinister character.

 Here she is reading one of my old Rupert Annuals. These were full of good stories, and again peopled by strange characters, some of whom were very un-P.C. Some of her other favourite reads were the ‘Mr Men’ and Little Miss books of Roger Hargreaves, classic fairy tales and anything with a mermaid in it. A Rupert story featuring mermaids and merboys was a double bonus. When she was older she graduated to Roald Dahl.

We all caught the reading habit very young, and are united in our love of books. There’s nothing to beat taking a well-thumbed much loved book from the shelf and dipping again into a good story or favourite poem. I hope this will remain so, even in the age of the Kindle and iPad, and I hope that my daughter will get as much pleasure the experience when she’s 90, as my Mum does.
Mum reading ‘White Doves of Morning’ by James Lee Burke, in the Lanzarote sunshine. Highly recommended - the book AND the Lanzarote sunshine!




21 comments:

  1. I love the way you've chronicled the reading tradition, in your family. 'Wind in the Willows' was a favourite of mine at school. I also devoured books by Malcolm Saville - The Fourth Key, etc. Smashing picture of your mum, enjoying a good book.

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  2. Like you, I loved books and was an avid reader as a child. For me, the best thing about school holidays was the fact that I could go to the library just about every day (strange child)! I'm so glad both my sons have followed in my footsteps and love books too. Great post.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  3. You are quite right : it doesn't matter whether it comes from a book or a Kindle (Dickens only published his novels as books once they had been published on the Kindle of the day). Whatever the delivery mechanism, a good read is a good read.

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  4. That first picture of you reading is really cute. I read a lot when I was young, but I don't think I read many stories.

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  5. Nothing is sweeter than watching a child's eyes dart across a book in wonder.
    When I think of my parents,it is always an image of them with a book in hand which comes to mind.
    I had a Golly too as a child, it was my mother's, and I'm sure you could collect tokens from jam to get one.

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  6. Great post, I was one of those children who bumped into lampposts due to having my head in a book, and I'm thrilled that my eldest loves them too. From about 6 months he would get excited about turning pages! The photos are lovely - I like you reading to Golly.

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  7. Great post, Nell. It was a schoolmaster reading to a class every day that sparked my interest in books - BB's Brendon Chase was the one I will always remember.

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  8. I love the photos of your mum~ What a wonderful post.

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  9. Hi Little Nell, what a most treasured post. I loved seeing your family and your family's joy of reading. Thank you so much for sharing. I guess that I don't know about Golly, sinister or otherwise. I'll need to check that part out.

    Happy Sepia Saturday, and thank you so much for stopping by to see me.

    Kathy M.

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  10. The best picture is the one of you - the first one. They are all lovely though and a perfect illustration of the joys of reading past and present.

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  11. Wonderful post Nell. Beautiful and such appropriate photos for your story. Love the photo of your mum. I started to read early too since that was about all we had to do back there in "them good old days." LOL

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  12. One long wall of the sitting room/dining room of my youth was covered from floor to ceiling with books, and that's not the only place they were. It's not hard to figure out why they have played such an important part on my own and my children's lives, and I hope they will continue to to do so, in spite of the computerisation of so much. My Rupert annuals have been enjoyed by my children and will, I hope, be so again by grandchildren in due course. If the books are there, and used, then the habit will brush off. Thanks for sharing your own love of books. I think most Sepia Saturday contributors will feel a kinship here!

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  13. Reading through the ages, well done. I too hope we never lose the feel of real books. How great that your Mum still remembers that first read, what an impression that book made. And the start with you reading a nighttime story is precious too.

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  14. It is just so lovely to have so many pictures of people, especially young people, reading. I'm not being ageist here, just that I feel sure starting young is the answer. Reading brings a another and different dimension to life. Saying that, my efforts failed with my younger son and he remains the only one of our entire family who isn't an avid reader.

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  15. I loved reading the history of bibliophiles in your family. There is nothing quite like sharing a good book!

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  16. Lovely photos and a wonderful post. Interesting that for your mum, listening to stories became reading stories.

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  17. Yes, reading a book in Lanzarote, sounds like an ideal situation!

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  18. Each and every photo is a treasure, so many things are passed from one generation to the next, I think the love of reading is one of the most precious of these.

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  19. What an amazing chronicle of the passing on from one generation to another their love of reading and books!

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  20. This is why books will live on. A memory of one particular book will be cherished. Lovely collection of photos.

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  21. Good Golly Miss Nelly!Your Photos Remind Me That,
    Although I Now Forget The Details Of The Stories, I Can Still Remember The Warm Glow & Comfort Childhood Reading Gave.

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