Today we welcome Kym Hamer with the third guest post of our new series, This is Why I Read. As a regular feature we will be offering guests the chance to talk about why we read, and offer insights from the sentimental to the seriously silly into why they personally, or we collectively need fiction in our lives. We are kicking off this new feature with a series of posts over Valentine’s Week to celebrate our LOVE of fiction. Up today is Kym, who has some fabulous things to share about the gift of reading fiction as a child. Enjoy!
The Gift of Fiction
Guest Post by Kym Hamer
Over the last couple of years I have begun commuting to work via bus/train rather than driving. At first it seemed to be a real drag – until I realised that this gave me great swathes of time to read – an unadulterated 25 minutes each morning (and then back again in the evening!) to immerse myself in another world, to explore new realms of possibility outside the confines of my own experience.
Books, and the stories they held, were the subtext of my childhood. Born with low immunity and shuttled between home and hospital for the first few years, books were my window into the world. Traditional tales like Snow White & Rose Red (it’s not that Snow White) and Sleeping Beauty were interspersed with favourites like The Poky Little Puppy and The Saggy Baggy Elephant and there was nothing more exciting than, as a reward for being good, Mum letting me choose a book to take home from our shopping trip. Reverently I would gaze at the shelf of Little Golden Books and solemnly choose, before cradling it joyfully to my chest all the way home.
As I got older, stories were always bedtime fare: first there was the couch where my little sister and I would choose a book and bring it to read aloud to Mum or Dad. Then we were allowed reading time before lights out and I remember wading through The Chronicles of Narnia several times, loving it for its brilliant imaginary worlds where children got to be bold and brave and solve the problems of the world. School played its part as well with our school principal (Mr McKenna, Aspley East Primary School in Brisbane) reading a chapter of Australian fiction to us over the PA system every morning – I got to know the works of Colin Thiele this way – Storm Boy and February Dragon being two of my favourites.
Surrounded by books at home, I moved onto Mum’s bookshelf quite early – Jean Plaidy/Victoria Holt featured first – I loved that the factual framework was lacquered shiny with romance and tension – as was Danielle Steele, Barbara Taylor Bradford and the Tilly Trotter series by Catherine Cookson. And then I discovered the adventures of Robert Ludlum, Wilbur Smith and Sidney Sheldon and all bets were off!
And to this day, I love ‘discovering’ a new author. It’s wonderful to explore new perspectives on the world and to record my discoveries during 2011, I have taken on the 50 Book Challenge – and have added a page on my blog Gidday From The UK, to capture thoughts on each book and publicly chart my progress. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and I find myself unceremoniously ‘dumped’ at story’s end (see Hot House Flower). But the possibility of riding atop that wave of the all-consuming great read is just too tempting to stop me uncovering new ground for long and already this year I’ve decided to read more from Douglas Kennedy and Kate Morton as well as getting onto the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy.
And I have my parents to thank for this precious gift.
Encouraging children to love fiction really shapes the foothills of their imaginations – what better way to open young minds to new worlds and to experience what might be possible?
©Kym Hamer 2011
Kym is a 40-something Aussie who has lived in the UK for 7 years. She spent her formative years in parts of Australia that have been subjected to either savage bush-fires, cyclones with innocuous-sounding names or have recently been under water – sometimes all three. She spends much of her time people-watching, reading, eating, reprioritising chores after all of these things and wishing she could bake better cakes like her insanely talented friends. She is fascinated by snow and her favourite word is Why? and yes, that is always with a question mark.
Faced with the challenges of time and distance when staying connected with family and friends back in Oz, she started her blog Gidday From The UK, which not only became their glimpse into her ‘everyday moments’ but reignited her passion for writing and she now wonders where it all might lead.
(This series was inspired by the seed post Trivium Imaginarium by Anne Robinson)
- This is Why I Read: The Restorative Power of Fiction (Aurelia)
- This is Why I Read: Super Powered Imagination (Aurelia)
- Combined Print and E-Book Fiction (nytimes.com)
- E-Readers Catch Younger Eyes (prathambooks.org)