Just as with getting outside and being active, I find our family functions best when we have a shared book on the go. Books are huge in our house, and can be found everywhere; the main barrier to a truly tidy, dust-free house is, for us, books (and Lego, if I’m honest). We read sprawled on the living room sofas, at the table, outside, when we’re camping, and have even pulled out our latest book when cycling long distances.
Some of our all-time favourite books we read over the past year, including Watership Down (I wish I still had it to read for the first time with my family, it was that good). The last book we read together never quite gripped us in the way that we really like a book to grip us. It was The Magician’s Elephant by Kate DiCamillo – a fable, really, rather than a novel, and a lovely spare one. It was a delicate, short read, but it just didn’t pull us all together the way the best books do, and so we made time for it somewhat less than I’d have liked (and therefore took longer to finish).
After some discussion about what to read next, we’ve jumped headlong into Swallows & Amazons by British author Arthur Ransome. Long suggested by my husband (a Brit himself), we finally agreed to give it a try. I think I was worried that it might be a bit young for my older son, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Ransome brings a very detailed and practical approach to the business of describing settings and the workings of boats (central to the story), and so it doesn’t feel juvenile in the way that it might in other hands. We’re still only a little way into the book, but so far, so engaging.
When we’re all reading together, it’s one more thing that we share, and if the story is really compelling, it’s something we want to do all the more. I’m always thinking ahead to what the next story might be for that very reason.