Book Of Days: The Making Of A Bookworm, Part 1…

Good evening, Bookworms!

Ever wondered about this bookworm’s formative years? How did she fetch up to be this massive bibliophile? Well, wonder no longer as, inspired by one of my fellow bookworm’s blog entries, I have decided it’s about time you had the opportunity to enjoy a bit of reminiscing about my early years and the days when I was a mere baby bookworm, just getting started on the reading matter! Let’s begin at the beginning…

I entered this world at approximately 3am on Monday 23rd April 1973, St George’s Day and, in that particular year, also Easter Monday bank holiday. Next year’s World Book Night is on my birthday! Anyway, I was the eldest child of Jean and Kevin Dixon-Jackson and, as a baby, would have had board books and cloth books as my very first reads! Encouraged by both parents, and with Eccles Library not too far away, I must have started reading fairly young, possibly anything around 18 months to 2 years old. One book I remember fairly early in my life was one of those Ladybird “Read It Yourself” books, which I got as a birthday pressie at my playgroup if I’m not mistaken. I would have been either 3 or 4 then. It was some fairy tale or other, although I’m not sure if it was Red Riding Hood or Sleeping Beauty. Whichever it was, I probably could read it myself! I was also enjoying books like A Colour Of His Own by Leo Leoni and the timeless classic by Eric Carle, The Very Hungry Caterpillar! (My niece Charlotte now loves that book!). Certainly, by the time I started in the reception class at Monton Green Primary School in September 1977, at the age of 4 and a half, I was already a bookworm and had started getting through reading books at a fairly speedy rate. Then came the big news, we were off abroad for half a year!

My dad worked for a Swiss chemical firm, then known as Ciba-Geigy, who had already had him over at their Basel HQ for 3 months the year before I was born. Anyway, in 1978, they asked him over again, this time for 6 months, and this time Mum and Dad had Ellie (who had just turned 2 before we went) and me, aged 5. School, not wanting me to fall behind, provided my parents with a good selection of workbooks for maths and for writing and, also, a whole stack of reading books! I expect they didn’t have any idea how many or how few would be read, but they provided Mum & Dad with plenty “just in case”, lol! Good job they did…

We went over on 30th June that year, so other than a week or so of July, it was soon school summer holidays anyway, but the next academic year would start while I was away as we didn’t come home until just before Christmas. Largely, my time over there was a long and wonderful holiday, but the schoolwork still got done. I was actually too young to go to school in Switzerland where the starting age is 6, but I did go to kindergarten once a week from that autumn until we went home. We didn’t have a tv over there, but we did have a “ghettoblaster” so we had radio and a large collection of audio tapes to listen to. While I was over there, I also saw sheet music for the very first time, an incident which would cause me to go on to learn musical instruments myself when I was older, and I also picked up a fair bit of (Swiss) German! I even had a few children’s books in German, some of them the equivalent of books I had in English, and thus my love of learning foreign languages was also instigated in Basel. There was plenty of time for reading and thus I was getting through those reading books which school had given my parents…

I have a good long-term memory, usually, but I wish I could remember what the reaction was at school, when I returned in the January of 1979, and was on for the last of the reading books they’d given me! I expect they were fairly aware that I was a fluent and speedy reader, but I still expect that they were gobsmacked at how many books I’d got through while over in Basel! Largely because of all this reading done in Switzerland, I was ahead for my age when it came to reading. By the time I was in the top infants, during the academic year 1979-80, I was on for the books meant for the junior classes. I was just into books, full stop, by then, supplementing my reading books at school with a considerable amount of other books which I was reading purely for my own enjoyment.

Also, I was hopeless at going to sleep! Always have been a night owl, so even at a young age, I would read in bed until I actually felt genuinely tired enough to nod off! I would often listen to music too – I loved both music and books from a very early age, and so the multitasking combo of listening to music and reading a good book started early and has continued to this very day! This music and books combo has served me well over the years for many reasons: relieving boredom, cheering myself up when feeling upset and passing time at night before I’m tired enough to go to sleep! I like late nights and lie-ins. I don’t do mornings! I get up VERY begrudgingly! The only time I have ever voluntarily been awake early in a morning is probably the day I was born! I’m listening to music as I type this out. I started very young with my love of rock and pop music too, probably even before the books, although that’s probably another story!

Well, I’d better give some thought to bedtime fairly soon, but I shall continue with my bookworm memoirs fairly soon! Nothing terribly eventful, book-wise, happened while I was still at primary school once I’d outgrown “infant books” in top infants, although I did start to learn to read a bit of music learning the recorder in the junior classes, so we will fast-forward to high school and college and the joys (or otherwise in certain rare cases) of set books for essays and exams…

Until then, I wish you all a good night! Take care and Happy Reading!

Books mentioned in this blog entry:

  • A Colour Of His Own – Leo Leoni
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle
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