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Formative Reading Experiences

ShortStoryDayAfrica is inviting us to think back on what were the key moments that turned you/me/us into readers and writers. Alex Smith is curating this year’s blog roll, and has compiled four questions to uncover the literary gems that sparked us all those years ago.

1 – WCatshat is your earliest memory of books and reading?
Lying in bed – I must have been seven or eight – with my mother reading to my brothers and I. She was great. She made accents and read lines like: “Yes the Rum Tum Tugger is a Curious Cat – And there isn’t any call for me to shout it: For he will do. As he do do. And there’s no doing anything about it!” (T.S. Eliot)

2 – As a small child, what book/s were your favourite?
There were many – too many to really name. ‘Old Possum’s…’ was special because my mother loved it so much and did such a brilliant job of making the poems come alive for us. I also remember ‘Haroun and the Sea of Stories’ by Salman Rushdie and and and…

3 – Where did you grow up? Do you have a particular memory of a library, bookshop or other place of books in your hometown?
I grew up in Ile-Ife on the residential campus of the Obafemi Awolowo University where my parents worked. I was lucky enough to grow up in a house that was a place of books. Books seemed as necessary to home as walls were.

4 – As an adult, in the role of parent or caregiver, what has been your experience of reading with children?
I love getting a chance to read to my nephews. I enjoy the way no matter how many times you’ve read the story they still want you to read it again, do the voices; it’s all the same old jokes but it’s still funny. Because being read to was such a big part of my own childhood reading to young children always feels special, sacred even.

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