I’ve been getting excited about books. While I never really fell out of love with them, having a two year old makes you see them afresh. As a result, I’ve decided to start writing a bit more about books that are featuring in ours lives. I'm calling it Big Reader, Little Reader. Sometimes the picture books we read together, sometimes the ones by my bed, the ones by my sewing machine or even just the little things we’ve noticed along the way. I’d love it if you could join me. I’m starting this week with Dorothy Butler, the woman who rekindled my interest and reading “in the middle of the muddle”.
I heard snippets of a recent interview with Dorothy Butler talking about her new biography and was left wondering who she was. I raided the stack of my local library for copies of “Cushla and Her Books” and “Babies Need Books” to find out more.
If you ever need convincing that reading can be miraculous, read “Cushla and Her Books”. It’s the story of Dorothy’s grandchild, Cushla, and how books along with the intense support of her family gave Cushla chances doctors never dreamed possible. It all sounds very disability of the week, but it is all true and very human. The tale is simply and beautifully told and a pleasure to read.
“Babies Need Books” is just that. What has stood the test of time however is the accessible breakdown of types of books suited to different ages. Technology has moved ahead, rendering the pages of details on how to find a book are out of date and many of the books mentioned are out of print. I will be hunting down Dick Bruna alphabets for Miss H, Alfie books for E and hoarding “beastie” fairy tales in anticipation of turning three.
Most of all I adore the importance she places on books and whole heartedly agree with the following justification for taking a 30 minute break to read with your children at the beginning of the day, after breakfast, after work departures and before launching into every thing else. A time she calls "in the middle of the muddle"
"Don’t worry about leaving the dishes, or any other chore undone at this point; nothing is more certain that that the dishes will be washed and the next meal prepared, whereas no certainty at all attaches to the inclusion of story sessions unless they are placed firmly at the top of the list. ...Train yourself to smile confidently at neighbours’ and relations’ disapproval; tell them, if you need to explain yourself at all, that you would be ashamed to neglect your children whereas you don’t feel emotionally involved with the breakfast dishes. You will get through as much work as they, in the end, and the profits of your good sense will be as obvious to your critics as to yourself. With any luck, some of them, at least, will join you.”
(taken from Babies Need Books, Dorothy Butler, Penguin 1988 pg 64-65)