Reading is the best remedy for so many things in life, as well as the opportunity to learn or discover something new on every page. I became a voracious reader aged seven or eight. Ever since my own children made their entrance into the world, I have been reading to them regularly, hoping that they will take advantage of the vast book library that started being assembled for them by their paternal grandfather long before they were conceived. In this post I wanted to share two children’s books, a 20th anniversary edition, as well as the newest one from the best-selling author, to draw your children’s attention to.
Fortuniously, both of my children love reading paper books and our family library continues to grow exponentially. Some books, after they’ve been read, are donated to local schools or Oxfam, contributing to both having access to good books for more children and circularity. My daughter also likes exchanging books with her friends, which allows them to experience different genres and form an open dialogue with each other, sharing interests and expanding common ground. But of course some books are ‘keepers’ and we return back to them, finding something new each time they are being re-read.
I was riveted by Sophie Anderson‘s writing from the moment I laid eyes on her “The House With Chicken Legs“. My initial reaction was primal, as it took me back to the days of my childhood and fairytales featuring Baba Yaga. Each of Sophie’s books since then (there are now four, including her newest one, due to be published at the end of March) have been ‘keepers” and also make the best birthday gifts – take it from me, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t enjoyed reading Sophie’s books, child and adult alike!
Sophie very kindly has recently sent me an advance copy of “The Thief Who Sang Storms” and I pulled a seniority card on my daughter, saying I was going to be the first to read it in our household and that’s that! A story of an island shaped like a broken heart feels particularly poignant and the story of a brave little girl Linnet on her dangerous journey makes the heart at times skip a beat or the breath to be sucked in momentarily. The power of child’s bravery, ability to make friends and find solutions to grown-ups created problems inadvertently puts some things in perspective. To save a life, to bring hope into the future and to mend broken hearts. Magic of writing in its own unseen, yet powerful way, can guide through the darkest of times towards the light. Sophie, you are the Word Witch of the most wonderful, powerful kind.
Another book that I want to introduce to you is Linda Sue Park‘s “A Single Shard”. I saw it on a small display in my local Waterstones, picked it up and got engrossed in the description of the award-winning story highlighting the 12th century ceramics craft of Korea, as told by the voice of an orphan boy. The book is written in the way that easily appeals to children and adults alike. It doesn’t sugarcoat life’s hardships of being an outcast, poor or disabled. Very masterfully and honestly Linda Sue paints the image of a strong, yet humble character, who allows himself to dream and to follow things through with determination, politeness, kindness, hard work and inner grace. Of course to read about the hardship is not the same as live through it, but we would be doing the greatest dis-service to our children by raising them to see the world through the rose-tinted lens. It’s impossible to stand in another person’s shoes unless you share the same experience, but other people’s stories and books are vital for us all, giving a window of opportunity to learn and reflect on something that we might not have experienced ourselves. It encourages empathy and compassion in the world that is often driven by cancel culture, rather than meaningful intention to change things for good.
While there is an enormous amount of fantastic books for adults – too many titles, too little time – I would humbly urge you to read books regularly with your children. Some chosen by you, others suggested by your kids, once they are old enough to start making their own choices and forming their own opinions. This adds a very powerful link to our circle of life and evolution of humankind.