'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Guest Post - CB Lindsay

KBR is delighted to welcome Belfast author CB Lindsay with this wonderful guest post. You can read our review on her fabulous book Who Ate All the Pies? right here.

Childhood and the Gift of Words

As a child, books were my world. My parents were very young when I was born and have since gone their separate ways, but I will always be grateful to them for the seeds of imagination they planted in me at an early age.

Some of my earliest memories are of books – the shape and feel of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the illustrations of Whatever Next! and of course the gentle voices that read them.

Every night, I would snuggle up in bed and eagerly await the storyteller. Mum always read the novels –Mrs Pepperpot, My Naughty Little Sister, Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat, Adventures of the Little Wooden Horse, The Animals of Farthing Wood and countless Dick King Smith and Roald Dahl stories.

In fact, I have a particularly vivid memory of setting sail on the four-hour ferry trip from Belfast to Scotland, on which every other child seemed to be crying, throwing up or generally annoying their parents. Meanwhile, Mum and I spent the whole journey hysterically laughing as we devoured George’s Marvellous Medicine.

Dad, a gardener with a love of English verse, always read me children’s poems. Poems that made me laugh – Spike Milligan’s On the Ning Nang Nong, and poems that made me cry – Edward Thomas’ Snow. Each poem was a fleeting moment spent in another world, a view of another life, another place, another way of being.

This is the gift my parents gave to me – the ability to journey through the clouds of my mind to far off places to meet new people and creatures, all in the safety of my own little bedroom. I am convinced that this early exposure to literature shaped my perceptions, abilities and personality. It sparked a desire to become the creator of these worlds and a guide through them.

Reading to a child from an early age gives them not only an insight into other worlds, but into the lives of others. As children, we inhabit a tiny world where we take centre stage. Books allow children to step outside of themselves and into someone else’s shoes. They learn to relate to and sympathise with characters, to laugh and cry with them. In books we discover friends.

Books also gently introduce children to concepts and situations they will inevitably encounter throughout their lives. Jane Clarke’s picture book Gilbert the Great deals with the theme of loss in such a sensitive manner that the reader can accept the disappearance of Raymond the Remora and move on with a few smiles along the way. Each book unlocks new emotions from sorrow and poignancy to joy and delight. Through sharing a character’s experiences and emotions children learn to connect to others in a way that feels comfortable for them, whilst developing their own sense of self.

I wrote my first full-length story when I was seven. I can still remember my excitement when our teacher said we could write about absolutely anything! What a wonderful thing to offer a child – the chance to create something of their very own, free of all constraints.

For me, that was when the magic started. Channelling the imagination into a structured story, transferring the images in the mind into words on a page, is such a liberating process and one that I think every child has a right to experience. To quote Tears For Fears, “Everybody wants to rule the world” – and through the power of paper and pen, a child can at once become the ruler and creator of their own kingdom.