Now Bonfire is behind us (did you have an amazing night?) we can start talking Christmas in earnest. So let’s start with what I think is the MOST marvellous idea for a Christmas present, just launched last week at Bags of Books. It’s a YEAR OF BOOKS!
For this, Bags of Books takes a one-off payment of £105 and then your child (or you if they’re too little) fills out a short form about what they’re into and the kinds of stories they usually like. Starting any month you like, they are then posted (as in, through the actual letterbox in your door) a book each month, each beautifully wrapped in special paper BOB has commissioned for the job. It’s the gift that keeps on giving (well, for a year)!
I know book clubs are nothing new. Maybe this idea doesn’t sound as exciting to you as it does to me. But let me tell you why I love it – two reasons:
1) When I was a child my dad recognised really early on how very very very into books I was. He said when I was quite small: “Any book you want to read, whenever you want to read it, I’ll borrow from the library or buy for you.” So I always knew that it didn’t matter how much I read, I’d never get through the pile of books by my bed.
I grew to love words more and more, and would have eaten books for dinner if it were possible. I credit my dad with my going on to take English Studies at university, for which I often had to read three novels or literature theory tomes a week, and thereafter making a career of writing. A love of books is the best gift you can give a child. I think anyway. Because getting lost in a story is the best feeling there is.
2) My son has, until recently, had almost zero interest in his tiny school reading books, and very little interest in any chapter book I have tried to lie and read him at night. We started Paddington – a chapter in, that was a no. Wind in the Willows – a chapter in, that was a no. You see where I’m going with this.
Then a few weeks ago I went out on a limb and bought the first Worst Witch book by Jill Murphy. BANG! It’s captured him. He’s totally swept up in the story and characters, and there are just enough pictures. We’ve since borrowed four more of the series from the library and I gave him the last two for his birthday. Out of nowhere he spelled out ‘broomstick’ phonetically from the back of the car last week, and out of nowhere he is fairly fluently reading those dull little school books. I think the seeds of a love story (see what I did there?) may have been sewn.
So when I was in Bags of Books last week, it was to ask owner Anna about similar series he might like. I came out with the books above and excitedly gave them to him for his birthday. I can’t wait for a new series to sweep him away – and to take me with him.
Discovering new stories for him was why I thought the Year of Books could be amazing for us. So I told my dad, as he’s always keen not to give toys. Lo and behold, my son was the first child to receive the Year of Books – given by dad for his sixth birthday during half term.
N.B. If your child receives a book that they already have, you can take it back to the shop for an exchange. But the shop has said they’ll be hand selecting for each kid, things that are unusual, or at least not totally mainstream – no copies of The Gruffalo of The Very Hungry Caterpillar will be hitting doormats.
Address: 1 South Street, BN7 2BT
Tel. no: 01273 479 320
Open: Mon-Sat, 9am-5.30pm
Price of Year of Books: £105, including postage. You can arrange it at the shop or through the website at bags-of-books.co.uk/shop. You do not need to live in Lewes to have a Year of Books.
Disclosure: No compensation, financial or otherwise, was offered or exchanged for the writing of this post. I happened to be in Bags of Books this week for birthday presents, and saw the poster for the Year of Books. I think it’s a great idea, supports a local business that’s pretty special to the children of the town, and encourages an activity that is personally important to me!
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