"Some books are so familiar that reading them is like going home again."
It's no secret that children's books are my big passion in life. I'm often asked what it is about them that's so special - why do I keep re-reading my favourite ones? There's a few adults who have not felt the need to hide the fact they find it rather odd. What can it mean? This woman who absorbs herself daily in a world made for children? Doesn't she want to learn? Broaden her mind?
I read. A lot. I read adult fiction, non-fiction, memoirs (particularly from the Scottish highlands) and poetry - I work in a bookshop, after all. But nothing satisfies me like the best children's books. The way the end of a first book in a trilogy has me reaching for the second book before I've put down the first. Or the way after taking in the final pages of a brilliant book, I take a long and languorous breath - letting the fullness settle in my chest.
There's no hidden meaning, no - 'what do you think happens?' There's no 'it's just what it is'. I'm not for a second saying that this is all adult books have to offer - indeed many adult books have satisfied me in the same way as children's books. But, there's almost a guarantee that a children's book will offer me what I want. Strong characters who I know from the outset, who I root for with all of my being. Descriptions of worlds and places that leave me in no doubt of where I am. Emotions that throw me into the deep-end and buffet me about until I can barely draw breath. And hope. They offer me hope that there is survival through the worst. There is redemption for the the lost, and the cruel. There is the understanding that we will see the best in people, and they will one day see it themselves.
I cannot help but be transported by these books, on every reading. I only have to peek inside Raymond Briggs 'The Snowman' to hear the muffled silence of a world blanketed by snow and ice. To see the minuscule iridescent sparkles under sodium-glow streetlight. I feel the weight of the big, fat, fluffy flakes of cotton-candy that whirl into my vision from the dark above as I tilt my head back to locate their source. I can feel the light of the aurora dancing on my skin as we head north, over the icecaps.
When I read 'When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit', Judith Kerr reminds me of the bubble-world we live in as children. Everything is so immediate to us, we only see what's 12 feet around us, until something happens that gives us sight, and for the first time we see beyond ourselves. It's at this pinnacle of our lives that some of our deepest memories are formed, taking a trip into these books takes us back into our own childhood. As Judith sees her parents, truly, for the first time, I am reminded of hot, sticky summer-heat, and the days my mother spent in bed, wrapped in pain and silence whilst I stood by and contemplated her being more than just my Mum.
And Harry Potter... Ah yes. That one. Harry the hero... Or is that Hermione? Where would he be without her? You can be a female with brains, strength and passion, and with them you can save the world. J K Rowling completely captured my imagination - she drew for me me a very real, solid door, through which I could climb into an incredible adventure. Whenever I needed it. Harry Potter completely absorbs it's readers like salt into water. Once you are in there you are changed into a different state, nothing can touch you.
It's this magical transformation I undergo, or perhaps transportation, that makes me love to read children's books. I am who I was ten years ago, twenty years ago - just a little bit older. I want books to give me the same thing they did when I was a child. Wonder.