Over the past year, I’ve started to become occasionally nostalgic for ‘story time’; those moments as kids, when someone would read or recite a story to you. Now I don’t just mean listening to a book, which has already been recreated in the form of audiobooks (which I still love, don’t get me wrong), but the sharing of stories. The way someone uses different voices and rhythms, the way they tell that story, and you share it with someone, going on the journey together.
There was something about stories and books and reading that I absolutely loved as a child – and not much has changed. I remember when I was very young, I would play teacher and put all of my beanie babies into different reading classes. Perhaps it was because I wasn’t in the top reading set in primary school, and I wanted to be the one who had the power to say what was good or not. Regardless, I would set each beanie baby ‘group’ a different book and I would go from group to group reading passages out loud from different books. This meant that there were occasions I would be reading four or so books at the same time, which I can’t even dream of doing now not just because of time constraints, but because I’m forgetful and can’t keep track.
Another memory, of being in year six (around 10 or 11 years old) and at the end of the day the teacher would hold a sort of story time, where she would read aloud from a book – I think we read Alice in Wonderland as we were putting on the play later that year (I was the Queen of Hearts, mainly I think due to the fact I had a loud voice which worked well with the ‘Off with her head!’ line). This was when all of my classmates would move into more comfortable positions, sitting on top of tables or slouching in their seats. My friend and I preferred to lie on our bellies under the table, elbows to the ground and resting chins in our hands.
Moments like these remind me why I was so enraptured by reading and books and stories. There was another time when I was in Year 5 and the teacher started to read The Diamond of Drury Lane to the class, and I so loved the book that I bought it and read ahead. By the time the teacher had read about half of it to us (and afterwards gave up), I had finished the book as well as its sequel.
Reading is such a wonderful and important thing, but we sometimes forget the simple joy of that shared aspect of it. Sure, we now have the internet in order to connect with other people who have read the same books and we have book groups, but they’re just not the same thing. I miss the pure joy of sitting and reading with someone, which I suppose the closest thing I’ve found to that is buddy reading. Whilst we mainly think of reading as something very solitary, I think it’s important to make sure that we don’t keep it all to ourselves. Sometimes there is nothing better than reading a book with someone, to share something quite unlike anything else.