The capacity for bookish bods to do wonderful and charitable things is quite something. Not long ago Patrick Ness set up a fundraiser for Syria through Save The Children, which is still taking donations, and has just blown up and now made over $1,000,000. In the last couple of weeks author and vlogger Jen Campbell announced her challenge to write 100 Poems in 24 hours from the 6th to the 7th of October for The Book Bus, a wonderful charity that sends mobile libraries to communities in various places across Africa, Asia and South America to help children learn to read, provide teaching materials and create school libraries. Now the book shop chain Waterstones, one of the few chain stores I love whole heartedly, have announced their Buy Books For Syria campaign….
They have teamed up with authors and UK publishers to raise £1m for Oxfam’s Syria Crisis appeal. From Today they will be selling books in our shops from a range of authors with all the proceeds going to Oxfam. A wide range of authors are supporting the campaign, including Philip Pullman, Hilary Mantel, David Walliams, Neil Gaiman, David Nicholls, Marian Keyes, Victoria Hislop, Ali Smith, Robert Harris, Lee Child, Salman Rushdie, Caitlin Moran, Julia Donaldson and Jacqueline Wilson.
I was kindly asked if I would like to champion one of the books and once the list was announced I went and chose one of my favourite thrillers of the last year or so which is Tom Rob Smith’s The Farm. If you haven’t read this corker of a thriller then here is my review to give you a taster and to add an extra reason to get your mitts on a copy for this cause.
Though frankly don’t even go and look at that just please do order the book, using this special link so the proceeds all go to Syria, if you haven’t read it yet. If you have read it then have a look at the rest of the special selection of books which you can buy in store or online using the special links here. Often when we take a moment away from our books and watch the news we feel like we can’t really do anything massive, well with this initiative we can, and all buy buying ourselves and/or our loved ones the gift of a book. Simple really, how can we not? I am off to go and choose a title or two myself!
Who would have thought that picture books would have become such a big part of my life? Ok maybe with the fact I am temporarily living with a pair of two year olds should have given me a clue, but who knew I would be almost thirty years old and enjoying picture books and story reading quite so much? Well it seems I really am because if I were to list the amount of them I have read, and then list the amount of times I have re-read them they would at least quadruple the amount of adult books I have read. Yes, I know picture books are much smaller, but you know what I mean.
One book that has simply stolen my heart is ‘Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book’ by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. In fact when it went missing for a few weeks (it has only just dawned on me that maybe it was hidden from me and my desire to read it two my youngest relatives so often) I was rather bereft. It’s a children’s book all about books, in fact I think maybe it deserves its own post in the near future – seriously if you love books it’s a book you will love, and its one that is a real joy to spend time reading to children. Not that that is the only book I read to the girls of course.
The library has become a huge treat, even more than it was before, now that myself and two trusty companions head their each week (well when I am not having some hospital treatment of some sort or other) with only one thing on our minds… to try and read as many books as we can in the venue before taking the ones that we want to read the most again and again for a week or two. It is utter bliss.
It’s a joy that has gotten even more joyful ever since we discovered something even more exciting… story sacks…
Not only do you get a book, in this case ‘No Room For A Baby Roo!’ by Neil Griffiths, but you get a whole load of other things too. There is an audiobook, a host of cuddly toys to enact the story with (though these couldn’t all be featured in the shot above as they had been taken to bed for afternoon knaps, no not by me) along with scenery. It’s a real experience and one I can’t quite yet work out who is enjoying more, me or them? These story sacks are free in libraries and yet another reason why we need to keep libraries alive. I have only recently discovered the joys of reading aloud to youngsters but it’s an experience that I am treasuring and really enjoying. It’s also nice to know that the warm, cosy feeling of being read to as a child I am passing on in some way.
Have you found the joys of a story sack? Which picture books do you still think of or even read? What were your favourite stories that you had read aloud? What’s your earliest memory of a library?