Thursday, 27 September 2012

Adventures in Books for Little People

I was once little and read books. Rather a lot of them, at least three a week, taken out on little paper tickets from the local library until I were old enough to get - wait for it - six books. Every week. Six books. That was on top of the monthly visit to Macpherson's in Dunfermline (after we'd stocked up on chicken noodle soup and tinned peaches in Asda), where I was allowed to get a book to keep. I admit there was a lot of Enid Blyton and Asterix packed into crinkly paper bags to take home and treasure for many years, and that I was heartbroken when it closed, taking with it booksellers in tabards and the excitement of rushing down the stairs to the children's department to grab the next Famous Five or Secret Seven book. I still feel a pang when I pass where Macpherson's used to be.
I grew up, and never thought any more about books for children. Being a grown-up, grown up books were far more important and it was not until one day many, many years later when I found myself with children of my own, who were demanding stories and being given books of their own, that children's literature blipped back onto my radar.. Some of these books have become house favourites, read cover to cover until they fall apart; some are out of date, boring or just don't hit the mark; and some have been put in the bin because that's where they belong. If we're just not keen on a book it will go to a book swap or charity shop, but books that label children as 'bad' or 'naughty', or set up gender stereotypes just go to be turned into something more useful via the paper bank. My kids deserve better than that. All kids deserve better than that.

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