Here at Coram Beanstalk, unsurprisingly, we love nothing more than talking about books!  

We love to share books we’ve read recently and we love to reminisce about books that we read ourselves as children or recommend books that made us feel a certain way.  

We often ask our author supporters to share their own reading experiences with us and Ross Montgomery (author of Max and the Millions, The Midnight Guardians and Space Tortoise to name just a few) told us this wonderful story about reading a book on a train journey he undertook alone as a young teenager.

His story set us thinking – thinking about how reading a particular book can often be inextricably linked to a memory or childhood experience; thinking about occasions when we maybe chose to read a book that was a little bit too grown up for us, or a little bit inappropriate or maybe even a little bit ‘expressly forbidden’ - and thinking about how growing up, becoming more independent and finally owning our choice of reading material was part and parcel of making us who we are today. 

So, as is our way, we decided to chat to our colleagues, family and friends and explore this link further. We asked for memories of a time when perhaps a choice of book coincided with, or contributed to, growing more fully into yourself – and we got some interesting responses! 

Many memories related to reading something that was meant for an older sibling, or something from a parent or other adult’s book shelf or something from a part of the library that was considered to be ‘too old for me’. Whether it was something fictional with more ‘adult content’ or a true account of an atrocious historical situation, a common theme emerged around memories of recognising at a particular time that being able to read meant we could choose what to read – and what we chose to read meant we were opening doors to experiences to which we had never had access before. 

Other memories centred around a discovery of independence – both literally and in their reading. Like Ross’s train journey, others described being allowed to go to town and the local library by themselves to choose books or remembering the book they read on a first solo trip to stay with extended family or being allowed to sit and read in the library alone whilst parents shopped. And the books that were chosen as company on those trips are all still clearly and vividly recalled!

To our minds, ‘creating readers’ isn’t just about giving children the power to read – it's about giving them the power to find out who they are, to open doors not only to education but to every experience real or imagined, and the independence to choose what those experiences shall be.