Bookshops and libraries are some of my favourite places anywhere. No matter what town, city or even county you are in, you know that the shelves are lined with hundreds, thousands of stories that beg themselves to be immersed in. I have fond memories of Friday’s after school, taking my stack back to the library and leisurely perusing the shelves, filling my bag with another set of imaginary tales to take home and enjoy. As a junior, the limit was eight books, a detail I remember as clearly as the paint on the rocking horse by the childrens area, the layout of books on the shelves and that beep of the scanner as each book was checked out by library staff and carefully stamped.
The library and our charity bookshop are great places to breathe in books and enjoy the atmosphere of possibility around. Each book is a like a person waiting to be befriended, and wondering which one to step up to, which conversation to start first can be a tricky choice. Unlike the (equally wonderful) charity bookshop near my childhood home, which is stuffed to the brim with old and new books in a higgeldy piggeldy yet wonderful fashion, our newly expanded charity bookshop also serves as a cafe, and is beautifully decorated with orange and white, authors names for table markers and literary coffee intensities such as ‘black beauty’. It’s fast becoming a popular destination with families around our village, with a train running around the top of it, a kid friendly corner and of course the lure of cakes and milkshakes. Each time we go we see a wealth of friendly faces, and each time I have an inner battle about how many books I should really be allowed to take home. The aim is to read them faster than I buy them but I usually see an old favourite in amongst the childhood classics or get inspired for another book related weaving! Phoebe loves sitting and leafing through the books, usually finding at least three she wants to take home, whilst Simeon focuses on train related books, waving at the train and pushing the boxes on wheels around the cafe.
Sometimes visits to bookshops, libraries and the like can seem like a lot of effort with little ones, but not only does it get them familiar with bookish places but it also lets them see more of my enthusiasm for reading too. It’s fun to go and browse the spines as a family, even if I can end up chasing Simeon down the library aisles as he giggles, pulling leaflets off as he passes by. Often the colouring pages might hold their attention for longer than actually reading any books, but just getting them used to coming through those doors and into the habit of being in the company of books as a family is an important groundwork for later years. I’m secretly really excited that in September Phoebe will be at school right next door to the library, as well as really near to the park, allotment, library and bookshop.
I hope that by spending time in bookish places throughout these little years- libraries, bookshops and places which have inspired books and which are meaningful for authors and their stories- that we are adding another dimension to our children’s understanding of the world and the stories which are inhabited in it, both in books and outside of them. That we can raise not only competent readers, but children who love to explore, to use and love the knowledge and experiences of others from libraries, books, words and conversations all around them. I hope that just as we look at a shelf of books full of unread stories and see the potential and power of those words to evoke a place, time, feeling, that they can see the world equally bursting with potential, learning and joys.
[ linking up with kids love to read ]
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