November 13th, 2015


When I Was Seven

What is it that makes seven such a magical age for reading? I’ve been wondering about this because my current bedtime read (as a break from the daytime books I have on the go) is What Katy Did. I’m pretty sure I was seven when I first read it and looking at it now I’m surprised. The language is old fashioned. It’s full of references I couldn’t possibly have got. Yet it’s so entertaining that I read it over and over again and still enjoy it today.

One day my mother came back from shopping in Croydon with a surprise for me: a Puffin copy of The Secret Garden; the very one shown above. It became my favourite childhood book.

I may have mentioned this before and if so, sorry to bore you. From the age of six until I was twelve I had to have an annual check up with X-rays at one of the big London hospitals. It was always winter. There were bus changes with long, cold waits for the bus. Then long, dull waits in bleak corridors at the hospital. In order to sweeten this pill for me, my mother bought me every year for that day a shiny, new, hardback book, which she could ill afford. Why she picked Jennings’ Diary for the year I was seven I don’t know (perhaps I’d heard the stories on Children’s Hour?) but it started a life-long love affair. I now have a complete collection of Jennings books but the first I read remains my favourite. Even now, I just have to think, ‘Mr Wilkins missing link’ to laugh out loud.

I could add Heidi and An Old-Fashioned Girl to the short list but that will do for now. Can you remember your reading from that far back? Are there books read at seven that have stayed with you all your life? I’d be really interested to know.