International Literacy Day 2018

8th September is International Literacy Day, a day which is celebrated annually worldwide as an occasion to promote literacy for both children and adults and highlight its importance to individuals, communities and societies. To mark it, we reflect on our own memories of learning to read…

Laura

Growing up, bedtime stories were a highlight of every evening. My sister and I had very different tastes in books and so had a complicated rota for whose turn it was to choose the story and in whose bed the story would be read! I don’t really remember when we started reading ourselves rather than being read to but I do have clear memories of having the chicken pox when I was 7 and working my way through every single Famous Five book!

Flo

Before I could actually read, I memorised Peter Rabbit and would recite the whole thing, turning the pages in a pretty convincing imitation of reading! The first books I properly read on my own were the Josie Smith books by Magdalen Nabb. I loved these so much that my mum wrote a letter to the author and actually received a handwritten reply! Magdalen was particularly taken with my name as she was living in Florence at the time – “The City of Flowers”, which she lamented was increasingly more populated by cars than flowers…

Elinor

I don’t remember the first book that I read completely on my own but I do remember the first books that I read together with my parents. We had several books from the Puddle Lane series which had a simple sentence on one page for me to read and then a more detailed paragraph on the opposite page for my mum or dad to read. They were great as I felt like I was reading on my own but still getting a full story. I also enjoyed reading books by Shirley Hughes, particularly the Alfie stories and the book Dogger. Another favourite was Burglar Bill, which I can still quote lines from now and which I look forward to reading with my son when he’s a bit older. I loved reading books (or being read to) from a young age and always looked forward to bedtime stories.

Anna

I have always loved books, but one of my main motivations when learning to read was so I could decipher the very glamorous – and not very feminist – women’s magazines that were stuffed down the legs of my mum’s leather boots in the wardrobe in my parent’s bedroom, all red lipstick and impossibly large hair. In fact I always wanted to read things I probably shouldn’t: I can remember being fascinated by Shirley Conran’s Super Woman for quite some time; most of the text meant very little to me, but here was a book entirely about grown-up, real knowledge, to be read when no-one was looking.

Tommi

Reading has always been a very important part of family life for me, and the house I grew up in and my grandparents’ house were always full of books with shelves occupying most available wall space. We would have books regularly sent over from Finland for birthday and Christmas presents, and Mum, Dad, Naini, Mummi and Vaari, along with anyone else that could be cajoled, would read to us at bedtime. Our summer holidays driving across Europe to Finland always started a week or so before departure with a visit to George’s bookshop in Bristol, so we could select the books to keep us occupied in the back seat. I’ve written about Muumipeikko ja Pyrstötähti (Comet in Moominland) being one of the first books I remember reading on my own for a post on World Book Day so I won’t say any more about that here. The first book that I remember getting in “trouble” for reading was JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was the classic story of a young child not realising that his parents could see the hunched shape and the torchlight visible through the blanket that seems so funny in hindsight. Dad later admitted that he would always let me “get away with it” for half an hour or so before telling me it was really time for lights out… I cannot imagine a life without the pleasure of reading, and a love of books must surely be one of the greatest gifts you can give any child.

Find out more about International Literacy Day on UNESCO’s website.

World Book Day 2018

Today is World Book Day – “a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and (most importantly) reading”. To mark the occasion, the CVP/MM team have been thinking about books that have made an impact on us. Read on to find out more…

Tommi

My favourite book is Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson. It is the first book that I remember reading on my own, in both Finnish and English. The story is structured in such a way as to keep the reader wanting to read “just one more chapter” and is accompanied by beautiful illustrations. The shopkeeper’s mathematical solution to ensure that Moomintroll was able to buy the Snork Maiden a gift, and that she was able to buy Moomintroll a “medal”, has always guided me in business.

Sarah

There are way too many good books to choose from but the Anne of Green Gables series is still my favourite. I don’t know whether it’s because the lessons you learn from your childhood reading somehow seem steeped in some kind of greater importance or whether you sometimes feel more jaded in later life/reading. These books really cultivated my imagination, gave me a better appreciation of the beauty of the natural world and an innate belief that you’re never too old to believe in fairies! 🙂 There’s also some great poetry quoted – these lines from Keats seem to capture the above and crop up in a few of L.M. Montgomery’s books:

  The same that ofttimes hath   
 Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam   
   Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

I try to reread the books every few years so as not to forget to look around and wonder once in a while! 🙂

Flo

Sticking with the childhood theme, I’ve always had a real soft spot for Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian. It was the book we read as a class when I was 10 years old and, impatient with round-the-class reading, I raced ahead on my own at home. The author created a very cosy world for a child to step into (I’m sure the reality for an evacuee during the second world war wasn’t anywhere near as idyllic!) with just the right amount of peril and tragedy to make it a good story. And of course, the all-important happy ending 🙂

Anna

My favourite book is The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier. I adore Daphne du Maurier, so inevitably my favourite book would be one of hers. I’m not quite sure why it’s this one, as it’s not her best book by some distance. I must have read it for the first time at precisely the right moment in my life (I’d guess around 10 or 11) as it’s left a lasting impression on me, and is always the book I comfort read when I have the flu. The heroine, Honor, is refreshingly undrippy and Gartred, her appalling sister-in-law, is the anti-heroine to end all anti-heroines. It’s Gothic and quite ridiculous, but I love it.

Laura

I tend not to reread books and haven’t done so since my childhood, so singling out a book as a favourite, having read it just once, doesn’t seem quite right. Instead, I’ll opt to throw a spotlight on my favourite book of the year so far, which is The Muse by Jessie Burton. It’s set in two different time periods: Spain during the civil war and London in the 1960s, with a mystery of a painting connecting the two. I tend to like books set in a different era or context to my life today, so it certainly ticked that box, as well as having a good storyline that kept me guessing right up to the end.

Sarah and Tommi engrossed in their favourite books