Reclaiming the lost era through picture books
I am a book person and no place fascinates me more than a library and a bookstore. I picked up serious reading pretty late in life after completing my formal education. My school and college life was about academics alone and in those days hobby reading comprising of comics, Tinkle (used to be my favourite) and occasional story books was just limited to summer vacations and Dussehra holidays.
I grew up in the pre-liberalization era of India and none of my relatives had ever ventured abroad. Therefore, I as a kid had no access or knowledge of the international titles meant for kids. My father did buy story books for me but he never had the time to sit and read to me or with me. He was, however, keen on giving instructions which was the thing he could easily manage in his busy work schedule about making note of new words in the diary and finding out meanings for them. This made the reading part more of a core rather than a fun activity.
Ironically, I have talked about not knowing international titles but my first book, a birthday present from an acquaintance, was David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
Later, moving to UK when my son turned 2 was a revelation to me. Our (Dhruv and mine) favourite place in the whole town, undoubtedly, was the town library which we used to frequent 3 times a week. And the part of the library I loved most was the colourful and inviting toddler and kids area. It was as if the millions of picture books, lift the flap books, sound books, pop up books stacked there exerted a horizontal gravitational pull on me.
Both Dhruv and I picked up on our reading journey starting with books based on his interests in cars, trucks, trains and other modes of transport subsequently moving on to dinosaurs. Attending kids story telling sessions in the library became a regular for us as I enjoyed them although Dhruv was never able to figure out what was happening. Besides, reading books to Dhruv at home topped my priority list.
Incidentally, I discovered the author Julia Donaldson in one such visits with her book Room on the Broom. The rhyming and sing-song style of words and the friendly witch made that book Dhruv’s favourite and Julia Donaldson my favourite author.
Other authors we got introduced to in due course of time were –
She creates interesting collage works about all things which interest Dhruv like the trains, the life of a car, boats, bus, excavators and many more. The first book that Dhruv picked up by himself was Red Car Red Bus.
- Tony Mitton and Guy Parker Rees.
Tony Mitton’s style of rhyming funny words along with the riveting illustrations of Guy Parker Rees make their books immensely loved by 2+/3 year olds. Our first pick was Bumpus Jumpus Dinosaurumpus. Dhruv loved dinosaurs and words like bonk-bonk, thwack-thwack were more than catchy for him.
What is childhood without Dr. Seuss? We got introduced to the early beginner series of Dr. Seuss books with The Cat in the Hat and Hop on Pop.
Since that time we have been collecting hoards of other works of these authors and savouring them.
In between, we also collected and read a lot of simple bed time story books and theme books available at throw away prices from a nearby store.
For myself, I got the chance of exploring the magical stories of Roald Dahl with BFG & The Minpins and the amusing Horrid Henry series.
On our return to India, I do miss the town library a lot but our reading voyage refuses to slow down. We have kept up with our explorations and discoveries of new titles and new authors. The newest gem is Eric Carle whom we got to know about by The Very Hungry Caterpillar and The Bad Tempered ladybird. Here, the reading dens we visit regularly are Lightroom Bookstore and The Reading Room. Both these places have an amazing collection of books. If in Bangalore, these 2 places deserve a visit by every book lover.
On a closing note, I can say I am having a ball of a time at present since motherhood opened up a vast universe of a genre of books which had remained oblivious to me during the part of my life when it mattered and I have no reasons to complain.
Originally posted on World of Moms