Did your parents read to you as a child? To be honest, I cannot remember mum or dad reading to me. Being the youngest, perhaps they were too busy. I imagine my three older brothers would have had them on the run most of the day and by evening they would have been too tired to even contemplating reading me a story.
However, I do remember my grandmother reading to me. Actually, nanna Herbert was so good at story telling, that she didn’t need a book. She would tell us the story or fairy tales, of the Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood, The Gingerbread Man and The Three Billy Goats Gruff, without looking at the book. She knew them off by heart. That was always such a special time, not that I realised it back then, but now, looking back, it was very special.
Most children’s stories had a meaningful lesson built into them. e.g., Three Little Pigs is the story about 3 pigs that try to build a house on their own, one of straw, he wanted to get his done quickly so he could sleep, the other of sticks so he could play, while the third takes a long time to build his house of bricks, no time for sleep or play. Then along comes the big bad wolf, or life’s challenge, and tries to blow the houses down, but because the third little pig has taken the time to build a stronger house, it stands up to the wolf. Effort and hard work pays off!
Goldilocks and the Three Bears is another fairy tale that I loved to have read to me and nanna always had just the right expression. “Who’s been sleeping in my bed?” “Whose been eating my porridge?” “Who broke my chair!?” Looking into the meaning of the story is interesting, as it refers to how your actions might hurt others, trespassing or breaking and entering and Goldilocks wants perfection, everything had to be “just right!”.
I never knew that Little Red Riding Hood had such a serious message. To us, they were just stories that my grandmother told me and it wasn’t until later in life that the interpretations were put out there in the media. I can remember playing and saying “Oh Granma, what big eyes you’ve got!” “All the better to see you with, my dear!” All fun to an eight-year-old. No doubt The Gingerbread Man and The Three Billy Goats Gruff have their own interpretations. They didn’t do me any harm, maybe I learnt some good life lessons from them without realising. If that’s the case, then maybe they should be revived.
No doubt many of you remember your first reading book at school. Mine was the one that went like this – Here is Dick, Here is Dora. Nip has a ball, Fluff is a cat. Run Dick, Run Nip! I was a good reader and loved to read out loud. And let’s not forget The Secret Seven, The Famous Five, Black Beauty and as I grew into a teenager, my favourite stories were the What Katy Did series. I still have to this day, Ash Road by Ivan Southall. It was a book I read in my last year at primary school about the 1962 fires near Melbourne.
I hope you have enjoyed reminiscing with me about the books that you read as a child. I wonder what books my grandchildren will remember when they grow up.