I have always been a bookworm. I remember, as a very young child, hiding with my latest book behind the settee, where I hoped I would be undisturbed for hours. The fact that the whole family always knew where
I would be never entered my head.
Those were the days, of course, when it was just too cold for most of the year to read upstairs in the bedroom shared with Mum, Dad and younger sister - even if you
could guarantee that one of the other occupants of the bedroom would not invade your shared space.
A few years back I had cause to obtain my medical records. I thought they woud make a
fascinating read but they didn't - the details of my early life were sketchy in the extreme. However there was just one entry, when I was six years old, which provided a charming insight into the child I used to be: "Sometimes gets a stomach
ache but says it goes away when she reads a book." I can only imagine I'd made the doctor laugh, or why did he write this down? Especially as everything else he has written is in cryptic hieroglyphics? I suspect my mother may
have been less pleased with me, having obviously been worried enough about my tummy ache to take me to the doctor's in the first place.
In those days you had to be 7 years old before you
could even join the library. How ridiculous does that sound today, when even babies and toddlers can take out a dozen books at a time? No, my older brother Phil had to be entrusted with borrowing
books on my behalf and an excellent job he made of it, as far as I was concerned, though on one occasion it caused lots of trouble for him with our mother. This was when he brought back "Charlotte's Web" for me to read.
It's still one of my all-time favourite books. It's the reason I couldn't possibly allow Mr B to deal, as he wished, with the extremely large spider I found in the bath yesterday. She could have been Charlotte,
you see. Or one of her progeny. My first reading of "Charlotte's Web" left me distraught, completely unable to stem the tears. My Mum was SO furious with my poor brother - most unfairly, because it was possibly this book which set
me off on my bookworming.
This early childhood experience is why I have been so happy to be one of the 30 volunteers helping with the Summer Reading Challenge at the library this year.
More than 350 children at our local library, aged 4 - 11, have so far read the required six books over the course of the summer holidays and as a result received their certificate, "gold" medal and other prizes. Saturday sees the end of
the Challenge for another year - and how I will miss it.
This morning I was reading through all the feedback slips the children had completed at the end of the challenge. There were lots of appreciative
comments about the smelly stickers, the activity sheets, the gold medals and certificates. A few children, bless them, even mentioned the helpful volunteers. But my favourite comment of all was from a six and a half year old
who had written: "The thing I liked best was the reading."
A girl after my own heart. So like me!