I can still remember my first experience of being read to as a child. It was at school, when I was five or six, and the book was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Instantly, I was hooked. To me, the idea that you could be transported somewhere different, where weird and wonderful things happened, was just extraordinary.
At the time my family was living in the New Hebrides – now known as Vanuata – and when they moved to France when I was eight I tried, unsuccessfully, to find the book. It wasn’t until I came to England at 23 that I was finally reunited with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It felt like meeting an old friend again.
As a child, discovering books was like finding a portal to another dimension. I was amazed – and still am – that with a book you can travel the world, meet a whole host of people and characters and can travel backward or forwards in time. It’s just the most wonderful thing. I’m such a book lover that I even named my son, Emile, after my favourite writer Emile Zola, while my daughter Adele was given the same name as the daughter of author Victor Hugo.
I get so much joy from books that I love hearing about initiatives that promote reading, like this year’s World Book Night on 23rd April. The annual event, run by The Reading Agency charity, sees volunteers hand out books to people in their community who either don’t have their own books or who don’t read regularly.
Last month, my company Tidy Books started an initiative of its own. On the first Friday of each month, we have a collection box in our London office where people can donate children’s books. These are then sent off to Give a Book, which gives books to a variety of schools and charities. Tidy Books also have an ongoing commitment to donate a percentage of our online profits to the national literacy charity Beanstalk.
Books are just the most amazing, imaginative, exciting, thought-provoking things. When you read you get to learn so much, be transported all over the world and experience incredible adventures. Books truly are magical. And if your child is encouraged to read from an early age, like me they’ll probably be hooked for life!
Founder and Designer of Tidy Books
* If you’d like to donate your children’s books to us, our collection box is open from 9am to 5.30pm on the first Friday of each month. Just pop along to 10 Hatherley Mews, London E17 4QP.