Being Read To

I’ve been thinking about being read to.

This is largely because I’m taking a course in children’s literature for my degree and the first two books on the reading list were The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis.

The first and last in a series that my mum read to me from her own well-loved paperbacks. The covers faded and worn in the corners and the pages with that good, old book smell.

In my memory we read these books for a very long time, but looking at how small they are now, I’m not sure if this was actually the case. Funny how the books you get lost in as a child are so briefly lived in as an adult.

Maybe having them read chapter by chapter was part what made them feel so huge. Or maybe being a kid just makes everything feel a lot bigger than they really are. Like summers – didn’t they used to last for years? Now, I blink and they’re over – though winter seems to drag (thank god it’s nearly October and spring is more than just around the corner here in New Zealand).

I don’t think I have anything new to say about the Narnia books. We all know how religious they are, and you can decide for yourself whether or not you’re a fan of Lewis’ layering of mythologies (that random Father Christmas plot device made for some interesting tutorial debates).

What rereading them has made me think about, and what I want the point of this little piece to be, is the people in my life who have made the effort to pass on books to me.

I was lucky to grow up around stories. We always had overflowing bookshelves and our scrap paper was often old scripts, but I think a lot of my love for reading comes from my mum and grandma being so good at reading aloud to me.

Grandma was a children’s librarian and her performing a fairy-tale was always the highlight of mine and my sister’s birthday parties.

But when mum read to me I used to make her sit on my bed in such a way so that I could read over her shoulder. My eyes were so hungry for the written word back then and now, when I read a book that utterly captures my attention I’m reminded of that feeling.

Maybe it was counter-productive, and a lot of the books she read to me I could’ve easily read to myself (and have since then), but there was something precious about that time spent together that I took a long time to let go of. We got to laugh and cry over characters together and being able to look back on those moments feels so special.

So, thanks mum! And thanks too, to anyone else who has made the time to read to someone – whether they’re a child, friend or partner – know that sharing books in this way is important and appreciated.

P.S. Thinking about all this has made me want to be read to again. So, I think I’m going to bite the bullet and get into audiobooks… If anyone has any recommendations for particularly good ones, please send me a message!

x Vita

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