Not all children become avid book lovers and readers as a result being read to, or from devouring authors’ pecious texts. Encouraging children of all ages to explore a wide variety of old and new books can help them develop such a love of books as objects that they want to read more.
I only remember my parents reading Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit series and Strewwelpeter to me, and my grandmother sharing one picture book, which I think was Wig Wag Woo the Kangaroo, or something like that. It was a long time ago, and I’ve never seen it again. But both family houses were filled with books of many kinds, which I handled at will, including:
Books with pictures of exotic overseas locations
Poetry collections letterpress printed on handmade paper pages
Almanacks released by Punch magazine in the 1830s
Leather-bound books printed in the 1600s
Play scripts … …
I’m sure the totality of my early book experiences helped me to become a ‘book person’ who later wanted to read, write, illustrate, construct and bookbind myself.
I have inherited these works and more, and I’ve added to the collection, including ancient handwritten documents and illustrations. It now starts at 2000BC! It’s a delight for me to lay these out in school visits for exploration—no white gloves!…even if some works get damaged. Printers in the Victorian age didn’t use archivally sound paper and glue, but kids (and adults) today love investigating books their ancestors may have read, even when a few pages are detached.
As this new website version develops, I’ll add photos of a selection of the books I share, along with notes for interest…just in case we never meet. My greatest hope is that schools will build their own collections, and encourage kids to handle and smell them, and become book people, too.
I may reorder the following links in the months to come—the order will be random for a while while this site is being re-built, but here’s the first—one of the most iconic books ever produced for the very young: