Thursday, 2 June 2011
Best of show
Despite the intermittent rain, June is bustin' out all over here in our little West Berkshire corner of England.
May is usually my busiest gardening month of the year, but this spring I've been resting on my laurels. Except for a frequent circuit with the watering can, and very occasional weeding, I've let well enough alone . . . and my roses and peonies have rewarded me anyway.
I spent most of May sowing a different kind of seed, and it's kept me so occupied that I've had little time for gardening, blogging or anything else. (Like my generous roses, I hope you will excuse my neglect.)
As a brief explanation: last September, I organised a Book Club for my youngest daughter and her friends. This venture has mushroomed into several new book-related projects which started in April: another Book Club, for 11 year olds this time, and two reading classes. All of a sudden, I've been given free rein to develop what amounts to three different reading lists -- and not just for this spring, but for next year, too. Reading for pleasure, reading for enrichment, reading to encourage more reading: these are my only imperatives.
It's a dream job for me, really. As one of my best friends said yesterday, "You get to read all day and justify it as WORK." Yes; exactly.
But it's a responsibility, too, and I really want to get it right. I've always thought of the age of 11 as one of the golden ages of reading. It's the age of unconscious delight -- of really getting lost in a book. Most readers are outgrowing predictable texts and series books and discovering books with much more emotional and intellectual richness. In England, at least, it's the age before cell phones and social networking -- and thus maybe the last, or at least the best, chance of turning a child into an avid reader.
I've often talked about book-love in this space, and it has been gratifying to realise that my blog-friends are a bookish bunch. I can't resist, then, asking for some recommendations.
What books (classics or contemporary; British or American) did you love best when you were 11, 12 or 13? What books have your children or students loved best?