I’ve always seen books as being special and this post is about why they are important to me now that I am a parent. It’s also about what I feel that we need to celebrate on World Book Day.
My first post on this blog was entitled Read all about it: dad books and preparing for fatherhood. It was about parenting books that are specifically aimed at dads and dads-to-be. I have also written other posts about specific books that have discussed some of the aspects of parenting about which I am passionate. It was a real privilege to be able to interview Ana Flores, one of the co-authors of the book Bilingual is Better, as part of the Multicultural Kid Blogs Book Club last year. More recently, I have also blogged about reading Bill Richards and Ashley Steel’s book Family on the Loose: the Art of Travelling with Kids and buying some Welsh language joke books in order to entertain our son.
Books have always been important to me, and I talked about why they are particularly important to me now as a parent in December 2013 in a post entitled Babies, Books and Blogging. I have previously explained how they have helped to play an important role in being a bilingual parent, and only last weekend I read a book to our 10 month old son for the first time. It was a Welsh language picture book about a sheep entitled Dilyn Dilys, which means ‘following Dilys’.
Reading a book to our son for the first time felt like a really special parenting moment, one of what I hope will be many that involve sharing things with our son that he will enjoy. We are really lucky that he has already received several free books as part of schemes to promote bilingualism here in Wales, and that several local libraries run events for parents with small children and babies.
Books can provide a means of understanding the world as well as understanding one’s self, and I talked about this in a blog post that I wrote shortly after the death of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. As I mentioned, I am from Scotland, have Irish parents and the country of Wales where I now live is a place whose national anthem celebrates its poets. In 2008, the year after I moved to Wales, I went to the Hay Book Festival and really want to return to this eclectic and exciting event again in the future.
I have also twice been to Wales’s Eisteddfod Genedlaethol (National Eisteddfod), an annual week-long Welsh language cultural festival. At the event in 2009, I saw Y Babell Len (the Literary Tent) as somewhere that was perhaps not worth exploring as I didn’t feel that my Welsh would be good enough. However, I did end up venturing inside as there was a discussion taking place in Welsh about an English language novel by Simon Thirsk entitled Not Quite White. Last year, I was brave enough to venture into the Pabell Len to listen to a panel discussion about e-books and their impact on the Welsh language.
Whilst I do have an e-book reader and a tablet that I use to read e-books, I am also very attached to traditional paperback and hardback books. The physical copy of a book in some ways conveys a greater sense of intrigue or mystique. I have also found that second hand books are often cheaper than electronic copies that it is possible to read on an e-reader.
I also really value being able to visit a local bookshop where it is possible to browse and discover new books. We are really fortunate to have a fantastic local bookshop called Palas Print that is well stocked with a wide range of titles in both Welsh and English. The people who work there are always really helpful when it comes to ordering books or suggesting titles when we’re after a present for someone but aren’t quite sure what to get.
Online retailers can offer low prices and quick delivery, but I don’t feel that they will ever be able to fully replicate the pleasure that comes from visiting an actual book shop. For that reason, I’m trying extra hard this year to try to buy as many books as possible from local shops rather than online retailers.
When it comes to online retailers, I’m also currently trying to use Amazon as little as possible. They may have an excellent range of books and other products, but I really have issues with the methods that they employ in order to try to minimise the tax that they have to pay here in the UK. It was reported last year that they only paid £2.4 million in tax on £4 billion of sales in the UK by virtue of effectively registering Amazon UK as a subsidiary of the Luxembourg-based Amazon EU Sarl. As was reported on the BBC News website, Amazon has been able to put in place these tax arrangements despite the fact that it employs more than ten times as many people in the UK compared to Luxembourg.
The slogan on the website of our local bookshop is ‘heb ffiniau / without borders’. This is a concept that I associate with trying to make sure that reading is a gift from which everyone can take pleasure. As our son grows up, I hope that he too will enjoy reading books that broaden his horizons and help him to understand the world around him. I hope that he will grow up in a world where the local bookshop remains present and in which big retailers respond to concerns about how they go about their business.
DISCLAIMER: I have not received or sought any form of sponsorship for mentioning any of the books, organisations or retailers that I discuss in this post.
Did you do anything to mark World Book Day? Are books important to you and/or your family? Please feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.
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