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Via ".@eenderinwales"

Hello there. Hope you’re feeling well today.

Now I should make it clear before I go on that this post is not saying that pre school storybooks aren’t important. Far from it. But the issue is I’m chatting about whether these books have the power to propel children into lifelong readers or not.

I am, as I hope regulars to this blog will know by now, a lifelong reader. But from two sources there has been the notion of the pre-school book that has been remembered by the adult. The first was in the podcast Books To Live By introduced by Mariella Frostrop and the second was an article in the Sunday Times by India Knight.

Both made me think. Firstly that I could vaguely remember books as a pre-schooler, but secondly these books that did still hung around my ancient fifty five year old memory were few and far between.

I can remember Rip Van Winkle. Solely because that particular edition had levers to them which would make the arms and legs move. There was also The Three Little Pigs remembered as I crayoned over the illustrations.

Don’t remember my parents reading to me before I went to sleep. Not saying they didn’t, but that the memory hasn’t lived with me.

I also noticed that parents go on about the illustrations in such books. But do pre-school children really care beyond them making sense. I can’t recall I ever raved about them. Indeed as an adult I’m suspicious of involved artwork in a children’s book. As if the illustrator is hoping that their ultimate destination is in a gallery.

When you reach junior school age then there are writers like Roald Dahl and J K Rowling who have the power of making you want to read (though funnily enough I’ve only ever read one Roald Dahl children’s book – Charlie and The Chocolate Factory, which I liked – but even in the nineteen seventies I understood that there were so many books and so little time).

I’m not saying that I’ve been a successful parent in converting daughter to bookwormism. She does like books don’t get me wrong but her leisure time has so many suitors. The internet of course, the many TV channels when as a child there were just three. Books are there, but they have to fight for her attention.

I believe that the key to whether or not reading is a passion that stays with you forever starts at the age of about five. There you begin to understand the power of comics. Starting with the likes of The Beano and The Dandy and then progressing to the American comics. In the seventies the American comics, particularly Marvel were exactly what you wanted, They were in colour. They had exciting superheroes. They made you want to read.

I cannot give you the name of any illustrator of a book I read as a pre-schooler. I do though remember Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby and John Buscema. And of course the writers Roy Thomas, Steve Gerber and the great Stan Lee.

I’m sure I’m not the only child who moved into books through reading comics.

Other than when I did the Aquaman experiment last year I’ve not read a comic book in years and don’t intend to start now. So I’m not going to claim expertise. But it does bother me that these comics seem to have moved from their pre teenage audience for a more older crowd. Hence the description change to “graphic novels”. They really should not forget their original audience.

The future of reading might depend on them.

Until the next time.