Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.”
― Lemony Snicket
It’s World Book Day* and the boys are off to school dressed as their favourite fictional characters.
I haven’t seen them this excited since Christmas morning. Big Brother, the literary critic, can’t wait to spend the whole day telling people which authors they should be reading and why. The Little Guy can’t quite believe that school is allowing him to be 100% himself…which as an actor committed to The Method, means being someone else entirely.
I have a passion for teaching kids to become readers, to become comfortable with a book, not daunted. Books shouldn’t be daunting, they should be funny, exciting and wonderful; and learning to be a reader gives a terrific advantage.
― Roald Dahl
I can smugly say my boys love of reading is because books have been a part of their life since they were young. Very young. Our eldest was only a few days old when my husband started lulling him to sleep with The Rodale Book of Composting. Mr WG sounds like Morgan Freeman with a Scottish accent, so I too would drift off to a happy place where the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio was just right.
Eight years later and a shared story is still the lynchpin of our bedtime routine. After a quick revue from the Little Guy, we cuddle up in my bed and I read aloud (at the moment we’re enjoying David Walliams’ Billionaire Boy). Before lights out, they also get ten to 15 minutes reading time in their own beds, with more at the weekend as a special treat (see how cunning I am?), because books in your home language really are a treat when you live abroad.
Qatar is a foreign country: we treat books differently here.
Here in Qatar, a couple of the larger stationery stores have a small English selection, but you’re limited to what’s been approved by the government censors. Amazon is subject to the same rules, so options for the Kindle are virtually non-existent (there are ways round this of course, but I’m a bit of a fearty-cat¹).
Fortunately my husband’s work runs a community library, stocked primarily with books that have been donated by expats. My heart does occasionally sink when I see row upon row of James Patterson and Joanna Trollope (seriously people?). Overall though, it is an absolute godsend, not least because a few naughty tomes by the likes of Richard Dawkins have sneaked past the pearly gatekeepers (ssh, don’t tell anyone).
Without other people’s generosity, I’d be pretty stuck for reading material here, particularly because I gave away all my books before we left the UK. As guilty as anyone of hoarding books in the past, I now force myself to pass on everything I read, either to friends or the small community library I use so much. I do miss the aesthetic appeal of shelves filled with other people’s ideas but hey, passing them on is what it’s all about isn’t it?
So tell me, how easy do you find it to give your books away?
And what are you reading today? I’m reading Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt…for the first time!
*UK and Ireland.
¹Scots for scaredy-cat.