At STP we love celebrations, so as we usher into the second week of November, it is time to celebrate childhood. There is no denying that reading is the best way to expand a child’s horizon and exposing them to diverse books prepares them for life in this big bad world.

We are running a 10-day long celebration on topics that surround childhood curated by Preeti Vyas founder of FunOKPlease and Children’s Author and Mommy Blogger Riti Prasad of Itchingtowrite. It will be a potpourri of stories, discussions, interviews, book reviews and revisiting our own childhood days. So, watch out for more…

We begin by asking some popular authors on their favourite childhood reading memory. 

Jane De Suza, the popular humor writer says,My mother was a teacher and she brought home books every week the way most kids were given candy. I remember, being 8 or 9, and waiting for that Thursday. I’d have finished my homework with impressive speed, wolfed down my lunch even faster – and would be hopping on the doorstep, waiting for her to arrive. No Santa was ever greeted with more glee. I’d tear into the books she got and be lost to the world for the next hour or two. And as time passed, Ma and her librarian both honed themselves into perceptive mind-readers – picking out the wildlife and animal books I especially loved : The Call of the Wild, The Black Stallion, Jago… Till today, the smell of a book conjures up the promise of absolutely magical hours curled up in an armchair – that will follow”.

“One of the joys of growing up in the northeast of India is that there is plenty of rain coming down, enough to irrigate a lifetime of memories. The other is that the houses there invariably have tin roofs. Put together, this is a bonanza — the steady thrum of fat raindrops on the tin overhead, water leaping off the eaves in giddy splashes, and a cold, biting wind driving the rain through the pine trees. It’s ideal weather to tuck into a razai, prop oneself up against a pillow and read a mystery. Almost all my Enid Blyton and The Three Investigators mysteries were read like this, and I think the atmosphere had as much of a role in getting me to read as the encouragement I got from my parents. Even today, I sometimes wish I could be back in Shillong, reading Higashino or Peter James while the wind and rain hammered at the casement.” says Mumbai-based author Shatrujeet Nath.

Dr Vineet Aggarwal  the author of the blog  ‘Decode Hindu Mythology’ shares,My favourite book memory is of my father reading the Amar Chitra Katha & Enid Blyton stories to me and my sister when we were very young. Every weekend we would get an option to buy one book each and I would invariably pick up one of these.

The fantastical mythological worlds of the latter and the young sleuths in the former left quite an impression on my young mind. Perhaps that is the reason that even today stories related to mythology, science fiction and detectives are my preferred reads! Truly, the seeds sown in childhood keep bearing fruits for a long time.”

For Koral Dasgupta of  #TellMeYourStory“The earliest memory I have with books is my mother buying me fairy tales, two each month. She would read those out for me at home, making sure that I am glancing through the pages that she read out. After my mother was done, I would turn the pages myself. I knew which picture appeared after what, which part of the story each page carried. By the time I started reading myself, I had grown beyond fairy tales. But two of them I read again and again, tirelessly. I still read The Ugly Duckling and The Little Match Girl. I feel those stories were written for me. They are soul-baring.

Our book shelf was a myriad collection of Bengali and English Literature.

Since I had working parents, books were my companion. Two books I can perhaps recite word by word, even today. One is Sukumar Ray’s collection of stories and poems. As a child I revered in the humour of his writing; today I understand the satire too. The other one was a prize from school. Huckleberry Finn. His world of dead rats and blowing up glass windows were the genesis for many of my mischiefs,”

” I have very fond memories of books as a child. I was quite enterprising back then, and when I was in Grades 6 and 7, I wanted to do something more of my huge collection of comics and novels than just read them over and over again. So, what I did was to team up with a group of like-minded friends and start a library in my house. We were three of us — the founders of Sunshine Library, as we called it — and among us, we had over 250 books. We cleaned them, bound them, labeled them, and then set them up on a table in my house. There were Tinkles, Amar Chitra Kathas, Chandamamas, and Champaks vying for space with Tintins, Asterixes, Laugh, and Misha. For novels we had tons of the classics all children read, and of course Enid Blytons, Agatha Christies, R. L. Stines, and so many more! We even went out door-to-door distributing handmade pamphlets of Sunshine Library and people did come over to my house to pick their reads. At the end of that summer month, with whatever we earned, the three of us treated ourselves to vadas and samosas and nimboo-paani. Really, that was the most fun summer vacation I had as a school kid. And I gained some blessings from the parents of my friends too, because I had interested them in reading that summer.” says popular horror story writer Neil D’Silva.

Usha Narayanan says,

I remember, I remember, the wizards and gnomes,
Pixies, elves, witches and flyaway homes.

I discovered Enid Blyton’s books at my school when I was just five. The librarian allowed me to borrow a book a day, opening up a magical portal into a world of rabbits and pantomime cats, picnics and ginger cake, and trees that say ‘Wisha-wisha-wisha!’ Her spirit remains alive in me even today as I weave vibrant tales in a fantasy world.

Rachna Singh discovered that just like playing seven stones or climbing trees, there was something as exciting: it was reading books. I was eight years old. And, the book was ‘The Magic Faraway Tree‘ by Enid Blyton. Instantly, I was Joe, Beth and Frannie’s fourth sibling. Escaping with them to the enchanted woods to hang out with Silky, old moon-face and the old, deaf saucepan man was so exciting.  And, of course, getting on the slippery slip to visit new and strange lands. At home, it was mandatory for me to take a nap after school. But, the lure of the book was too compelling. I would read in my bed, my warning sign being the clinking of mummy’s bangles in the adjacent room. It meant she had woken up. In a jiffy, I would tuck the book under the pillow and feign deep sleep.

Kanchana Banerjee the author of A Forgotten Affair says,Reading, for my family, was a family activity I grew up with. Surrounded by books, since childhood I remember seeing my parents read. My grand ma who stayed with us was a also a voracious reader. My most favourite childhood memory is of the entire family – Pappa, Mom, Grand ma & I sitting together, reading our books. No conversation, just silence broken by the sound of flipping pages. No one disturbed anyone and if one of us looked up to gaze at some imaginary point, no one noticed and if one did, no one questioned. As readers we knew that sometimes the beauty of what you read is to be mulled over, read again and again and sometimes just gaze somewhere else waiting for the beauty of the prose to sink in. This is my favourite childhood memory. The Von Trapps were a musical family, we were a reading family”.

When I was little, my father used to go on about reading ‘the classics’. I wasn’t sure for a long time what exactly ‘the classics’ were except that everything my father got us to read was faintly boring. These were abridged versions of books like ‘Great Expectations’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ and it was only many years later, once I’d grown up and studied Literature at college, that I could properly appreciate and enjoy these books. As a child, I only wanted to snuggle up with whatever Enid Blyton book was available on the shelves of the gloomy old library at Central Vista’s Air Force Mess in Delhi. Sunk into a giant leather armchair, I’d be lost in the shadows, dancing with elves and pixies in some far off English forest.” says Jaishree Misra, the author of Ancient Promises.

Also Read: Himanjali Sarkar Says, ‘writing for me is cathartic and enjoyable’

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