Basket of Books: Question and Answers

Basket of Books: Question and Answers

Here at Reader Apparel we love to shout about our love for all things books and reading!

The clothes and other products we make all come from a passion for the written word and we want to shine a light on a variety of Instagram accounts that promote the same. Today, Clare at @baskets_of_books tells us about her family’s reading habits and why she loves the library so much…...

I started my account a couple of years ago because friends would often ask me for recommendations both for their own reading and for their kids’, so I thought it would be a great way to keep a record of what we’ve read while promoting great books and authors. I’ve really loved getting to know lots of other book lovers, and my wish list has been growing exponentially ever since!

The name came about because we keep baskets of books in several rooms around the house for the kids to dip into. Research shows that having books in more than one place in the house is very good for children, so that reading can be incorporated into lots of their daily activities. Having the books somewhere the children can see the cover and look through them easily by themselves is also very important – we do keep books on shelves too but lots of spines facing outwards is not very appealing to a child so we switch the content of the book baskets around regularly.

Having said that, it’s not a guaranteed route to book-loving children! My two boys (ages 10 and 8) are wildly different in their approach to books. One of them is an avid reader who will pick up any book I offer him, the other is a very able but reluctant reader and it can be quite a challenge to find something he will agree to read (besides the Beano!) He is put off by too much text on pages so we find books that appeal to him such as funny poetry (Michael Rosen), graphic novels (Victoria Jamieson; Amulet series), books with illustrations (Tom Fletcher, Alex T Smith) He may never be an avid reader but we will always gently encourage him, and of course model a love of reading through our own behaviour – I try to let them see me reading a book and not just my phone!

Something we try hard to do with our book choices for the kids is to make sure they’re reading a wide representation of different lives and cultures. We’re extremely fortunate to be living in a time when publishers a really diversifying their material to represent more marginalised people and as parents, carers or teachers, it’s up to us to be mindful that we’re choosing a good variety of books for our shelves. We try to look for books by BIPOC authors, and stories of people who have overcome various obstacles in their lives. One of my children wears hearing aids so for us it’s very important that he reads stories that feature children who are deaf or hearing-impaired so he can see himself represented in stories. (Thankfully, we have been able to find several.)

The library plays a huge role in our family’s reading habits. Pre-Covid I would visit very regularly to borrow huge piles of picture books, novels and non-fiction books. Thankfully we have been able to borrow a few over the last few months by reserving and collecting but it’s definitely not the same as being able to browse a whole range. I consider it a big privilege to be able to try out all sorts of books completely free – not to mention the sustainability of borrowing books rather than always buying new. The community work that takes place in our local library is also invaluable – sessions for babies and toddlers, the elderly, and everyone in between. I’ve heard it said that a library is one of the few public buildings you are welcomed into without needing to pay a penny to be there and that makes them so important. I can’t wait to get back there!

Quick questions:

Do you prefer physical books or e-books/audiobooks?

I’m all about physical books! I love to turn actual pages, be able to flick back to another point easily and slip in a favourite bookmark. I have tried e-books and audiobooks and I think they’re brilliant but just not my preferred way of reading.

What is your favourite book to film adaptation?

There are so many I love! But if I had to choose one it would be Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility – I love the book, and the Ang Lee film is just pure delight!

What would be your 5 desert island books?

Some of my favourite novels I’ve read have been long and involved stories from other cultures such as Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver and A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry – those would certainly stand up to a few re-reads! Then I’d have to take Anne of Green Gables for some light relief, and my bible!

What is your all time favourite children’s book?

My favourite children’s book is one I read only last year – When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson. It’s a graphic novel that tells the true story of two Somalian boys who grew up in a refugee camp in Kenya and it’s just beautiful. I had never read a graphic novel until last year but I have been fully converted to how wonderful they are!

My favourite picture book would have to be Dogger by Shirley Hughes. I’m a huge fan of Shirley’s stories and illustrations; she just really captures the magic of childhood.