Wednesday, 8 October 2008

How books shape people by Lynn Huggins - cooper

In the last few days, I have been Samhuinn - cleaning the house. It's like spring cleaning, but more thorough (Samhuinn is new year for pagans). That means I spent a *whole* day cleaning the dining room, and a *whole* day cleaning the living room. I have ten more rooms to clean so as they say, I may be some time...anyway, as a part of this effort I have been de-cluttering. My eldest daughter is nearly 20 and has decided to train as a primary teacher despite me (an old lag) telling her 'How Things Have Changed' through sucked teeth, on a regular basis...

My house is clogged with books. A feng shui expert would have a field day. So I asked my daughter if she would like all of the foundation stage and KS1 materials I still have (I home-edded my youngest - another story) and she said yes - so I have been piling up boxes of books - including picture books. I spent a gloriously happy and tearful day today sorting picture books. I saw my childrens' lives flash before my eyes. Favourite books - the hungry caterpillar (my son, now 22 with his own mortgage and business, could tell the story along with me at 18 months (and would startle waiters by asking in a lispy voice for ' a slice of swiss cheese' in restaurants) 'Maurice's Mum' by Roger Smith prepared them for a batty, witchy mum, 'The Big Big Sea' by Martin Waddell was my nearly -20-year-old daughter's favourite because the illustrations looked like her and I on our favourite beach...'The Tough Princess', 'Tarzanna' and 'Dulcie Dando: Football Player' prepared my girls to be everything they wanted to be (daughter number 1 is an FA football coach)...'Giant' and 'Dear Greenpeace'helped them to be green...the Dr. Xarges series helped them to develop an off-beat sense of humour...'Hello Sailor' by Ingrid Godon was a gift for children with a gay aunt and a gay uncle...'Elmer' helped them to learn about celebrating difference...Valerie Flournoy's 'The Patchwork Quilt' taught them about the value of their own history..all I hope is that one day, I write a book that helps to 'speak' to children and enables them to find a hook on which to hang their picture of who they are. Books have been *so* important in our house. I hope that one day I shall write a book that is important too.

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