Happy World Book day.
It is indeed a day to celebrate the written word presented in the tangible form of books. I love books. I love owning books. I love being surrounded by books. I love the cover designs. I love the relationships they help me create with stories and information.
But alas, over the years, my relationship with books has waned considerably. As soon as I could read I have devoured books. By the age of 8 years I knew I wanted to be a writer, and then went onto to launch the primary school newsletter, which I believe is still running today, 32 years on. I would read by torchlight under the bed covers, until late at night. My favourite book when I was younger was When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr. I still have my much loved and tatty copy that I have read many times. (I have also added in the photo gallery at the bottom of the post a sample of some of the books of my childhood that I have kept to share with my children. These books feel like old friends. Companions that kept me company through quiet times and sleepless nights.I have been an insomniac for as long as I can remember.)
In my teens, it was all about Judy Blume. I read everything she ever wrote. Joanna Spyri’s, Heidi and the Goat boy Peter kept me enchanted and every Sherlock Holmes story that Conann-Doyle created I devoured.
As I grew older my literary tastes were varied. I studied English and read the set texts but I also gorged my literary eyes on cheese-fests such as the Flowers in The Attic series, which I could not put down. I read Kane and Abel – terrible but so good. Armstead Maupin’s – Tales of the City was a gourmet delight. I loved Julian Barnes and his eclectic styles. Mary Wesley was my heroine as she showed me that age was no barrier to greatness that I could be a writer who was discovered in my senior years and there could still be success. She gave me hope that there was always time.
In the 90s when I was young, free, single and mobile it was a book that was my must have travel chum. As I traversed the world I read and read and read. There was a certain vogue in books that seems to have died recently. Wild Swans by Erica Jung was one such example and of course, Bridget Jones’ Diary and anything by Marian Keyes created a certain hunger amongst book buyers. To some extent we are there with Christopher Brookmyre but I feel like I have over eaten his noir and rapid fire style, although Hagar is not done yet.
There is a a debate raging on my Facebook profile about whether books are dying. I think they are. Publishing is in turmoil. Hit hard by the ecomonic crushing crunch and Amazon’s market saturation. Newspaper and magazine sales are declining. Paper production is on the decrease. I know this because in France, near our house, is the biggest Paper Mill in Europe and it is rumoured that it will close in three years because the lack of demand makes it existence no longer sustainable.
My friend Matthew Pryor, editor of Spin – The Cricket Magazine sent me a link to an article in The Guardian by Anthony Horowitz asking do we still need publishers. It’s worth a read. I think in my limited experience I would say today, in 2012, we do still need publishers because the writing business model although still changing is mid-transmission. In any state writers need editors. A good editor is priceless. They are like a guardian angel – the architect to the builder. Writers definitely need editors. The best editors sit in the publishing houses because until writers can manage their own brands, business model, route-to-market and supply chain the publishing house is king. But maybe not forever but definitely for now.
So if books are dying and publishing is in decline the consumers need to SAVE BOOKS. I think publishers, when they stop sulkily, lamenting the inevitable change, mourning the lost lunch culture, stop feeling sorry for themselves and start fighting for their own survival, will create direct sales model based on their own brand integrity, with loyalty schemes not dissimilar to the supermarkets. A bit like football teams – consumers will be encouraged to start buying into a house and it’s stable of authors. I am sure they’ll get there.
But for now I have two readlings to raise and engage with books. The Grenade loves knowledge based books and has been told he is only allowed to go to the library for one break per day otherwise they wouldn’t get him out of it. The Menace loves books too. I was approached by Caroline Edwards, a former teacher who has started a company called Love2Read creating unique bespoke picture books using your own images.
The aim of each unique book is to help your child develop a love of reading. It does this by presenting photographs which reflect your child’s world and relating them to simple words. Research shows that if your child loves books they will learn to read much faster and you will be encouraging a lifelong love of reading.
The key words in each book are known as “high frequency ” words, which are some of the first words your child will be taught to recognise when they start school.
Caroline says; “I got the idea for love2read while helping one of my children learn to read. I’d made a book using photos of our family and it was a real hit, so I made some more using different words. Then I noticed that even my youngest child, who was only two at the time, was picking up the books and I could see that he was starting to recognise words.
In fact I knew why the books had worked because I’m a qualified teacher, with over fifteen years experience, and at university studied how children learn to read. I’ve used this knowledge to design our range of books so now you can help your children, without having to resort to glue and scissors like I did!
I’m sure you and your family will get as much enjoyment from love2read books as we have and would love to hear from you.”
The Menace loves her Love2Read book and happily will sit and pour over it. It’s a great gift idea for children for all gift occasions. It’s also a great book for if a parent is away on prolonged detachments. Collate pictures of the parent and the child and use it as a positive enforcement of their presence as your child learns to read. We love Love2Read and hope you will too.