Growing up is optional…

I am in the process of ‘looking back’ – a fun thing to do! This time it’s to my childhood books, after all, growing up is optional!

What did you read as a child – when you were growing up?

Some of my early favourites got a peek in My Reading and Writing Life.

This time I take a take a step or two a few years down the track to when I was reading children’s books as an adult.

Why would I do that? As a teacher, I was obliged to! During my years as a primary school teacher, I explored children’s books and created integrated learning programs that I believe would answer to any education setting today (bold assertion!).

One such book I discovered came in the wake of Paul Jennings proliferation of stories (whose writing tips I linked!). I discovered I loved the honesty and ridiculousness of his stories – not as much as kids might – but he made that connection with his reader! Imagine my delight when I discovered his award winning The Fisherman and the Theefyspray which is not quite the same as his other books. I adore Jane Tanner’s colourful images, and both Jennings and Tanner’s beautiful honesty, the connection to living things.

I use the story as a teaching aid – something to wrap bandages around – you know, the hurt in this world, and all it takes is a little bit of kindness to give life back to something or someone caught unawares in a situation they had not understood.

It’s many years since I went to the conference about ‘reading’ and felt an affinity (from a seat way back in the auditorium and later in the line up to get my book signed!) with the fatherly Paul Jennings, and much more so with Tanner’s grandfatherly image of the fisherman. I adored my own grandfathers (maternal and paternal) and found resonance in the imagery.

While not acquainted with the sea, the story hearkens to my childhood holidays in Albany, Western Australia, where I holidayed with my parents, staying with my grandparents. An uncle and aunt and their family were often there at the same time. Many tales abound, not the least of which was a promised fishing trip in a simple boat, with my uncle, near Emu Point. I failed the early rise test and usually merely feasted on my uncle’s morning catch. However, I still feel that sense of wonder about creatures of the deep, and Jennings book evokes a deep sense of responsibility towards sustaining our ocean life.

In short, I truly love the way some books evoke a moment or more of raw honesty in response.

Growing up is optional…but responding to literature is not defined by age. I too have my memories.

Eileen Susan is a writer based in Perth's Darling Ranges, Western Australia. Her love for writing began as a child with compositions at school. Writing remains a passion, though it varies in nature, from short stories, to poetry, family biographies and memoir. Reading across a range of genres contributes to her love of life long learning. Studies at university broadened her horizons and love of the world of literature. She also enjoys photography and dabbles in art and other crafty hobbies, such as sewing. She is often found indulging in a good cup of coffee and gazing over the hills from her patio.

2 comments On Growing up is optional…

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    I’d love to revisit some of my childhood favourites. I got the chance to read a couple to my children, but even that was a long time ago now! One of my absolute favourites was Storm Boy—I can’t read it without crying, but to my amazement, all of my children have remained dry-eyed. They must have hearts of stone!

    • Eileen Dunn

      Hi Louise, thank you for stopping by. I agree ‘Storm Boy’ is a great story! I enjoyed how Colin Thiele crafted his stories. It’s so true how stories evoke different responses. I saw that happen many times in the classroom!

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