Forgotten childhood pleasures


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I remember a lot of my favourite books growing up. And not very many of them were meant for the age I recall leafing through them. I could trance away hours infusing the images from my favourite picture books. One was a collection of Classic Paintings, another was a pictorial guide to dogs. And Kit Williams' Masquerade held me fixed, sometimes deliciously terrified, in a world of my own.

I'd forgotten all those feelings until I had a son myself. Before being childbound I was given Marvel Chronicle - a visual recollection of superhero superness over the 20th Century. Despite clearly being aimed at nerds like me, my two year old boy asked for it regularly. And the quietness that descended on him as he turned each page, with uncharacteristic care and reverence, reminded me that not all books are meant to be 'read'. He had no idea what the pictures 'meant'. He just loved the imagery and occasionally enquired whether so-and-so was a goodie or a baddie.

Some books aren’t meant to be read with the pictures to simply lead the narrative like a printed bannister. Some books are born to be looked at. To be loved. Patiently. Quietly. And can, with enough beauty and stimulation, let new minds create stories of their own.

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