One of the great pleasures for a parent is to sit snuggled up with your child (or children) reading a book aloud. We are so fortunate today to have children’s picture books with outstandingly vivid and colourful artwork. Artist/authors such as Eric Carle, Jeannie Baker, Colin Thompson and New Zealand’s own Lynley Dodd come to mind. Reading out loud like this instils a love of books in young people. You can’t start the process too early.

One of the great disappointments I’ve experienced as a parent happened the day my children disappeared with the book I was reading out loud to them—to read themselves! The disappointment didn’t last for long. I knew I’d done my job. Our daughters are, to this day, lovers of books and literature. I now have to wait for our first grandchild to revive this great pleasure of reading out loud to youngsters. But you may not have to. Here are a couple of authors with adventurous stories to read out loud (until your children take off with the book!)

Arthur Ransome (1884 –1967) was an English author and journalist turned foreign correspondent and spy in Russia during the Great War. Upon his return to Britain he settled in the Lakes District, the area which inspired his first children’s book Swallows and Amazons. Many more followed, telling of school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in the Lake District and the Norfolk Broads. Many of the books involve sailing; other common subjects include fishing and camping. The books remain so popular that they provide a basis of a tourist industry around Windermere and Coniston Water – the two lakes that Ransome used as the basis for his fictional North Country lake. We possess the series in the FNDC library system and encourage you to introduce these gems to your children.

Willard Price (1887 –1983), a naturalist who worked with National Geographic, wrote his Adventure Books to encourage an interest in natural history among children. There are fourteen books in the series. We have them all in the FNDC library system plus Price’s exciting autobiography. In reading his own story I discovered that Willard Price was born in Peterborough, Ontario, a lovely small city in the picturesque Kawartha Lakes region of Southern Ontario that I called home for five years. Here’s a brief summary of his books which I cannot too highly recommend for young people, particularly reluctant male readers, interested in adventure and the outdoors.

When naturalist John Hunt realises that both his sons are too young for their classes and getting too far ahead in school he makes them an offer: take one year out and work in the family business. Hunt runs a wildlife reserve and supplies animals to zoos, circuses and conservation parks. It is no surprise when both boys jump at the chance. The Hunt brothers, Roger and Hal, travel all around the world, studying and capturing animals and learning to survive on the African veldt, desert islands and Arctic tundra. The stories are sort of Gerald Durrell meets the Hardy Boys. They’re great fun to read and a learning experience.

Membership in the library is free for anyone under the age of eighteen so give your children the life-long gift of reading by bringing them to the library.

One more thing. We recently updated our magazine collection and we’re pleased to announce some exciting additions to our already comprehensive collection. So look out for new gems such as NEXUS (the NZ edition is published right here in the Far North), Lifestyle Block and Popular Science which augment our old standbys.

The Kaitaia Public Library  at the new Te Ahu Centre is open Monday to Friday from 8.30-5.00 and Saturdays from 9-1. Please note our new phone number is 09 4089455. Come in and meet our friendly, helpful staff and browse our full and diverse collection of books and other media materials and regale in a new, true library experience in our stunning and artistic Te Ahu space.

Radio host, librarian, inspirational speaker and health educator John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives and Beyond the Search, books to lift the spirit and touch the heart. See http://www.JohnHainesBooks.wordpress.com

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