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spires from Carfax

there's more to literacy than being able to read

Books + Ideas, , — June 2018

It's amazing how fast, once you can read, literacy becomes part of your life, and it becomes almost impossible to stop yourself reading text if its in front of you.

While I was reading Roald Dahl's Matilda to her, Helen told me that she knew Miss Honey and Miss Trunchbull were sisters (which is not quite right) because her friend Immi had told her that. And Immi had also talked to her about The Witches, which we started reading as a result. So she's already in a world where she talks about books with her friends.

On Sunday Helen and I stopped off in the Weston Library for a snack. There's a little standing triangular-prism brochure thingy (what are these called?) on the tables there, and when she asked I explained that the side I was looking at was telling people not to use laptops between 12 and 5. The next thing I know, she's swivelled it around and is clearly reading it for herself. Afterwards we had a quick look around the "From Sappho to Suffragettes" exhibition. We couldn't get into the "Maker of Middle Earth" exhibition as we hadn't booked, but in the foyer the interactive information posts were offering a quiz on Middle Earth, which of course I had to try. I was happily going through the multiple-choice questions, explaining what I was doing as I went, when Helen answered one of the questions for me! The question was "Complete the chapter title: 'Riddles in the _____'", and Helen remembered that it was "Riddles in the Dark" (we are two thirds of the way through The Hobbit).

Spelling out words to keep them secret no longer works. And, when she's looking over my shoulder at my monitor, I now have to think about what she might be reading, not just about what pictures are visible (sad to say, she can now recognise President Trump, though I try not to bother her with politics outside 6th century BC Athens).

In less happy book news, four of Oxford's bookshops have shut since Helen was born: the Inner Bookshop, Paradise Books, the central Last Bookshop and (sob) the Albion Beatnik. (Blackwells has opened a new shop in the Westgate Centre, but has also shut its separate music shop.)

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