For the Love and Reading

The Magician's Nephew

A few days ago, I began reading The Magician’s Nephew to my youngest daughter. It is the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Re-reading this wonderful story, reminded me of being curled up next to my older daughters reading it to them, nearly twenty years ago.

We read the stories in chronological order and by the time we were ready to begin Prince Caspian, Chicken Pox had arrived in our London household. So, Prince Caspian was read in just over a day, whilst my eldest daughter desperately tried not to scratch and dreamt of fire-breathing dinosaurs, her temperature was so high.

But before Prince Caspian, probably about halfway through The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, I had become so engrossed in the stories, that I was the one sitting on the bed saying, ‘Just one more page.’ Instead of poking my daughters to stay awake, I sat down and read the books through. I was completely transfixed. The stories are fabulous adventures told in the most beautiful language and although the Christian allegory is obvious, it never feels didactic or forced.

The Narnia books have been stored in a box, with other assorted children’s books. Some of them my elder daughters’ and some of them were mine. Saved first by mother and then by me. They have moved countries and house with us and I’ve never been able to part with them. But until last week, they were confined to the cellar, alongside the boxes of other childhood treasures that I can’t part with.

As I pulled the books out of the box, each one was infused with a special memory, an emotion, taking me back to barely remembered childhood bedtimes. And yet, the stories have stayed with me my whole life. The books that were mine as a child are yellowing and have the fusty smell of a secondhand bookshop. their covers are tattered, the spines barely hanging together, but we still read them.

Pixies and Elves

The books are filled with tales of fairies, enchanted woods, pixies and elves. Enid Blyton’s tales of naughty boys and good little girls, Brer Rabbit, Milly Molly Mandy and Pookie, the  story of a flying rabbit. I adored Pookie. Of course we had the Australian classics Blinky Bill and Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, but I think my appreciation for them grew as I did. I clearly remember turning the pages of Disney’s Heidi and Cinderella when Tinkerbell rang her little bell as the scratchy 45 turned on the record player.

My beloved Pookie

the very rascally Brer Rabbit

Winnie-the-Pooh and Beatrix Potter featured in my childhood too, but not as much as they did for my own daughters. Books for children in the 1960’s were a luxury, even in the house of book-loving parents. Most of my books were won at Sunday School and School Prize days. Books that were read to me by mum or dad, as I nestled into the crook of an arm.

A cautionary tale about pride

When koalas were still 'bears'

As my elder daughters moved away from childhood books and discovered The Harry Potter series and Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights Trilogy, I packed up the books, just as my mother had done, thinking I would be storing them for my grandchildren. But my youngest arrived, 17 years after my second daughter, and so the books are once again being opened by little hands, eager for a story.

Featuring the 'Push-me-Pull-you'

I still talk about books with my older daughters, lend them books I’ve enjoyed, give them as gifts. But, it isn’t the same as the intimate sharing of reading a long-loved book to your child, curled up beside you.

Another favourite

The little girl who loved all these books


5 thoughts on “For the Love and Reading

  1. my lovely daughter started school this year and subsequently learnt to read…I know that each stage of your child’s life seems more exciting than the previous but can I say that sharing the joy of reading, revisiting books I read as a kid, having her read to me and hearing the fantastic stories she has made up makes me almost cry – thank you for this post…it reminds me to get the next books ready for our nightly adventures…

  2. The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my all-time favourites, and has been ever since I was a little girl myself. The movies in no way match up to the books!
    I can hardly wait until my daughter is old enough for me to read my favourites to her.

  3. My daughter is 18mo and already loves to curl up with me while I read to her. I can’t wait to get into all the old classics I’ve saved! And to discover the ‘new classics’ being written now. Thanks for Rewinding.

  4. That was a trip down memory lane. Dr Doolittle and Brer Rabbit. Such treasures 🙂 I have been reading the Harry Potter stories to my eldest and have been stretching his bed time later and later as I want to read more and more too! Thanks for Rewinding again. I am late getting around but having such fun! We are back on Jan 6 x

  5. I came across your blog when googling “the magicians nephew” book covers, my mum read the narnia series to me 20 years ago, and that story was always my favourite, so now I want to collect editions to read again and keep. Do you know anything about the edition you have pictured on this post? I’ve not found such a lovely cover anywhere else but am unsure how to search for it. Thanks in advance, I realise I’ve stumbled across this post rather late!

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