“Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “A sheer pleasure.” – Tana French. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville. “The effortless cool of Elmore Leonard at his peak.” – Ray Banks. “A fine writer at the top of his game.” – Lee Child.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

On Doing It For The Kids

There’s a scene in The Rise of the Planet of the Apes movie in which - spoiler alert - the main character, the hyper-intelligent chimpanzee Caesar (played by Andy Serkis), speaks. It’s a dramatic moment, as you can imagine, although I did think the filmmakers were over-egging the pudding unnecessarily: language and speech separates humans from every other species on the planet, but verbal communication isn’t a function of intelligence only; it also depends on physical evolution, and the development of the vocal tract, which took a couple of million years in the pre-human species.
  What’s undeniable, though, is the crucial importance of speech, language and storytelling to the human race. Not long ago, an Irish Minister for Education made a pronouncement along the lines of a child deprived of books and storytelling is in effect an abused child. The words he used were a bit strong, I think, but I agree with the sentiment: every child should be exposed to books, language and storytelling from as early an age as possible. At its most basic level, a mastery of communication is essential to function in the world. For those to take to it, however, and thrive on words and stories, it’s a doorway into another world entirely, and a way of seeing the world - and in theory infinite worlds - in a whole new dimension.
  And so Lily and I trotted off to our local library a few weeks ago for the very first time, and delighted I was to discover that being three years old was no bar on her joining the library; indeed, there’s no minimum age at all. Lily has loved books for quite a while now (any kind of storytelling, actually; she’s as happy watching a princess movie on TV as she is reading), although it does make her a little sad that Daddy’s books are ‘broken’ - i.e., that they’re all words, and no pictures ...
  I have no idea of how far Lily’s love of books and stories will take her. Maybe it’s just a phase she’s going through, and she’ll grow out of it. But it’s only in retrospect that I realised that my own home was fairly stuffed with books when I was a child, and that reading stories, and being told stories, was so commonplace as to be unremarkable at the time. Part of me wishes that she engages so fully with books, language and stories that she grows up to write her own, because to my mind there’s no finer way to waste your life; although part of me, too, hopes she doesn’t, because there can be a lot of lonely heartbreak involved. Still, on this day, which is a Red Letter Day for yours truly, with my latest tome being officially launched, all I can say is that books matter far more than whether or not one more writer or less gets his book published. What matters more than anything, I think, is that the wonderful world of words and language and stories is made available to our kids. Sweet dreams, Boopster …

7 comments:

herschelian said...

Children who grow up with books round them in the home - who see adults reading books and getting pleasure from it, who are read aloud to, taken to libraries etc are far more likely to become keen readers themselves and to do better academically. One can never be too young to be introduced to the joys of reading. Whether your delightful little girl grows up to be a writer is another matter - what is important is that she learns to love books. and nowadays there are wonderful books for children of her age. I loved reading to and with my (now adult) children and can't wait to go through it all again with my soon-to-be born grandchild! Three books your girl might enjoy are: 'The Elephant & the Bad Baby', 'The Tiger who came to Tea' and 'Avocado Baby' - and I suspect you would enjoy them too!

EK said...

Two launches on one day--congratulations! My son was excited to get his library card at about that same age. He is an aspiring TV writer, but thinks of himself first as a storyteller. Our public library had wonderful storytelling events for the kids, and always made them feel welcome. As for Lily's storytelling dad, congratulations on the launch. I just ordered the book from the Book Depository. It will be available from Amazon US on Nov. 28, but preorder is open, and Kindle purchase is available now. I decided to order the physical copy, and I can wait the two weeks because I have about a dozen books ahead of it in the TBR pile. Looking forward to it. Thanks!

Steven T. said...

My soon-to-be three year old is soon to get her name on the library wall for having had ten books read to her. Loves "Madeline" and "Strega Nona's Harvest" as well as "The Snowy Day."

lil Gluckstern said...

Many moons ago, I took a class in Kiddie Lit-for teachers who work with little ones. We had a wonderful time. My kids went to the library because I did, and my grandchildren had books before they were born. Books are just part of the fabric of life in my life, and if Lily is like most children raised with books, the world will always be brighter and more interesting because she has you reading with her in her life.

Dorte H said...

Happy launch!
To your book and your little reader.

In my home there was no money, hence no books, but I´ll never forget that my father began to take me with him to the local library when I was 4-5 years old. Those Friday nights were precious for many reasons.

Peter Rozovsky said...

Dr. Seuss made me what I am today, ao I know what a formative influence books can be.
======================
Detectives Beyond Borders
"Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home"
http://www.detectivesbeyondborders.blogspot.com/

kathy d. said...

Congratulations on both accomplishments: the new book and the avid reader you're raising.

Being surrounded by books, and being read to and going to the library will instill in her a love of books that will continue ... undoubtedly.

I still remember going to the library regularly with my parents and taking out armfuls of books every week, staying up into the wee hours (and being late for school) because I was reading ... this is still true.

Books are always there, even to distract from life's stresses and to take "virtual" vacations, as well as to entertain and provide joy. It sounds like your daughter has figured out much of this already.

She'll keep it up, no doubt.