Books, Babies and Biscuits

croppedimage373279-World-Book-Day-373-279-1In 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?

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6 thoughts on “Books, Babies and Biscuits

  1. What a brilliant idea. Encouraging mums into libraries, making them and their children feel welcome and giving mums some time to do something they enjoy.

    & Current book I’m reading is Bernie McGill’s The Butterfly Cabinet (I’ve already read This Holey Life).

    • It was great and you’d have loved it in your capacity as early years advisor. Sorry, been busy and also bad fibro. But I’d love to come to your birthday meal, please… x

  2. This is definitely what is needed to get adults and children back into the libraries, which are such wonderful places. With a lot of libraries having machines to check yourself in and out, some libraries have become very impersonal. So glad you enjoyed it Sophie. My children & grandchildren always loved the rocking horse at Exeter Central library! … Rosy

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