You see I’m really quite tired of being an impoverished author, I feel that the time has come for me to have some money from it. Not a lot, just enough to only have to do the one job, just enough so that I can finally call myself a writer and not shuffle about slipping in the Children’s Librarian bit as well.
I love being a librarian, and worked hard to get here, but I would prefer to just be a writer and feel that it is about time that I had that. So, agent permitting (!!) I shall have that soon but until then I will have to keep my librarian hat on (which is not made of tweed with horn-rimmed spectacles attached thankfully)
At least I still have my world of words, and am surrounded by my audience every day so that my writing is never likely to drift from what they actually read. I have now worked so long with children’s books that I can’t imagine working with anything else. If only the adults would stay clear of me, my job would be much easier – both as a writer and a librarian.
One of the questions I am most commonly asked (librarian hat) is “how can I make my child read?” Make…..make my child read……short answer, you can’t. How can I make you eat curried slug? How can I make you dance on hot coals? I can’t – you will do it if you want to, but not if I make you.
Children of smokers smoke, children of drinkers drink, children of readers read. It is all about how your child perceives reading as an activity. Do they see you read? Do you have books around your house? Do you buy or give books as gifts? Is your shared reading time special and important, or is it hurried and crammed in? Do you and your partner argue over who is going to read with the children? If you do not see reading as an enjoyable leisure activity, why would your child? Are you expecting your child to do something you can’t or won’t?
These all seem like very obvious things, but when I am asked how to “make” a child read I always ask “how often do they see you read?” The answer is very enlightening, and for most parents it is that realisation that makes them see what they are doing. I have lost track of the times I have had a half mumbled “well, I’m very busy and I don’t get much time…” It is at this point that I ask them what soap operas they watch……
As with all aspects of parenting, it is about investment of time. You can have a child who reads a lot, but you can’t expect school to deal with it all. You have no right to plop your child on the school doorstep and expect them to come home reading Voltaire. For some children, this might happen – but they are very rare. In my experience less than 1 in 15 children will become an enthusiastic reader who will need no encouragement and will seek out books to read. Low numbers, but if you doubt them ask around the people you meet and see how many read more than two books a year – and those will be read on holiday!
So read – it is the only way to naturally increase your vocabulary, it is the key to a better standard of life by allowing you access to a higher level of education and comprehension of the printed word, and it is the only way to raise your children as readers too.