Kids without books.
Posted by Big John on June 2, 2011
This article in The Guardian about children and books reminded me of a post which I published in January 2008. I think it may be worth a fresh look …
Neither of my parents had much of an education, both having left school at an early age.
My father started work when he was thirteen, taking over a milk delivery round from a man who had gone off to fight in World War I in 1914. My dad always joked that the horse that pulled the cart was smarter than he was.
My mother left school at a similar age and had just started work in a draper’s shop when that war ended in 1918.
Although lacking in formal education they were both literate and far from stupid, in fact my mother, who worked in a laundry for most of her life (it paid a shilling a week more than the drapers) ended up running the place, after she undertook to do the ‘book-keeping’ and other clerical work, even though she had never been trained to do so.
Now I have to say that although my formal education lasted until I was sixteen (and a half) I was not the greatest of scholars and my school reports always had lots of .. ”must try harder” .. or .. ”needs to pay more attention” .. comments when it came to such subjects as maths, science or Latin. However, I wasn’t too bad at ’English Language’ and always enjoyed the ’English Literature’ lessons: but how I hated that homework! … I would sit at the kitchen table struggling with logarithms and bloody theorems or trying to memorize “amo, amas, amat” and wondering why plurals didn’t end in ‘s’, and verbs had to go at the end of sentences.
My parents couldn’t help me with my homework, but they did more to educate me than they ever knew, when they forked out some of their hard earned cash for me to join a book club.
Although I used to borrow books from the public library, the ones I got in the mail every few weeks were mine to treasure until this day. Reading them and re-reading them stimulated my interest in literature, and led to the eclectic collection of books which now weigh down my bookshelves.
The actor Michael Caine is famous for his … “Not a lot of people know that” … when divulging some little known fact, and when I sometimes do the same, and am asked … ”How did you know that ?”… I simply reply …
…“I must have read it in a book sometime.”