Bedtime Stories: preparation for a literary life

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It is often said that the books you read when you are young are an important part of your childhood years. It is certainly accurate that those who read from an early age are more likely to continue to read later in life. I am willing to be proof of this and tell you it is indeed true. 

Reading as a child has even been linked to not only improving literacy, but the British Cohort Study found that it also improves maths ability too. Yet, with more and more distractions for children now besides reading, with children using the internet from an earlier age, it is likely that some of the classic childhood stories from our age will whittle away. 

So, what constitutes a great childhood story that might last beyond the decline in childhood reading? As a child, with a preference for sitting indoors, nose buried in a thick book, a story had to have the ability to transport me away from everyday life. 

a story had to have the ability to transport me away from everyday life…a very small number of exceptional books can do this

Rather than being sat in a standard classroom, I had to be sat in Hogwarts, pretending I knew Hermione. I had to be living the life of Tracy Beaker; instead of being shy and reserved, I was loud and confident. Or feeling myself stepping into the land of Narnia from an old cryptic wardrobe in a room of an old man’s house that I didn’t even know. Out of the masses of children’s books out there, and I got through a fair few, I found a very small number of exceptional books can do this.

A book of that nature for me was Matilda. For any person who doesn’t know, the story of Matilda by Roald Dahl follows the life of a small genius girl who develops psychokinetic abilities and uses these abilities to deal with her abusive family and oppressive principal Miss Trunchbull. 

While the plot does not sound quite suited for young children, Dahl cleverly paints the story for a child’s mind, and, like most children’s books, it ends with a picturesque happy ending with Matilda being adopted by her thoughtful and kind schoolteacher, Miss Honey.

Matilda taught me that reading could be my salvation in a hectic world

Evidently the story of Matilda did not resonate with me in some respects; I had a loving home and a lovely primary school headmistress. But, it did in other parts. I knew what it felt like to prefer books over playing sports. Matilda taught me that this was also great. That reading could be my salvation in a hectic world. 

Matilda was just like me and the story is still a significant one. Without it I may have even stopped reading at the same rate and been more tempted to do what other children do. Just like Matilda, I continued to ‘travel all over the world while sitting in a little room in an English village’.

Image via Pixabay

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