In honour of World Book Day 2013 I visited a book group at Exeter Central Library this morning to talk about This Holey Life. This was a book group like no other as there were babies and toddlers there. So lovely!
The book group has been set up by librarian Karen Bowdler with funding from Literature Works. The idea is to have a reading group that parents can attend with their small children in an informal, safe space. There are many parent and toddler groups but this is one for the parents. It gives them ‘permission’ to read again, to return to the world of books that might have got lost under the heap of nappies and plastic toys.
I had great fun chatting to the other mothers (there were no dads today but there was a grandma). They could relate to This Holey Life because the central character is a mother of three. She’s also a reluctant curate’s wife – and guess what? There was a retired curate’s wife among us!
We had a really good discussion about writing and books and how our responses to books change as our lifestyles change, as we age and move into different stages of life. Books we read as teenagers touch us in different ways when we are in our thirties, forties, fifties, sixties… Life experiences change our attitude to the world and also the fictional world, which offers us if not the truth then at least a certain truth. I couldn’t navigate the world without my fictional characters alongside me…
I think this is an amazingly simple idea and am so impressed that Karen was inspired to do it and put it into being.
Libraries are sacred spaces. The book world may be changing but there will always be a special place for libraries in our communities.
And did I forget to mention the biscuits? Biscuits were available for both big and little ones.
Happy World Book Day? What are you reading?