One of the great pleasures for a parent is to sit snuggled up with your child (or children) reading a book out loud. We are so fortunate today to have children’s picture books with outstandingly vivid and colourful artwork. Artist/authors such as Eric Carle, Jeannie Baker, Colin Thompson and New Zealand’s own Lynley Dodd come to mind. Readingout loud like this instils a love of books in young people. You can’t start the process too early.

One of the great disappointments I’ve experienced as a parent happened the day my children disappeared with the book I was reading out loud to them—to read themselves! The disappointment didn’t last for long. I knew I’d done my job. Our daughters are, to this day, lovers of books and literature. I now have to wait for our first grandchild to revive this great pleasure of reading out loud to youngsters. But you may not have to. Here are a couple of authors with adventurous stories to read out loud (until your children take off with the book!)

Arthur Ransome (1884 –1967) was an English author and journalist turned foreign correspondent and spy in Russiaduring the Great War. Upon his return to Britainhe settled in the Lakes District, the area which inspired his first children’s book Swallows and Amazons. Many more followed, telling of school-holiday adventures of children, mostly in theLake District and the Norfolk Broads. Many of the books involve sailing; other common subjects include fishing and camping. The books remain so popular that they provide a basis of a tourist industry around Windermere and Coniston Water – the two lakes that Ransome used as the basis for his fictionalNorth Country lake. We possess the series in the FNDC library system and encourage you to introduce these gems to your children.

Willard Price (1887 –1983), a naturalist who worked with National Geographic, wrote his Adventure Books to encourage an interest in natural history among children. There are fourteen books in the series. We have them all in the FNDC library system plus Price’s exciting autobiography. In reading his own story I discovered that Willard Price was born inPeterborough, Ontario, a lovely small city in the picturesque Kawartha Lakes region of Southern Ontario that I called home for five years. Here’s a brief summary of his books which I cannot too highly recommend for young people, particularly reluctant male readers, interested in adventure and the outdoors.

When naturalist John Hunt realises that both his sons are too young for their classes and getting too far ahead in school he makes them an offer: take one year out and work in the family business. Hunt runs a wildlife reserve and supplies animals to zoos, circuses and conservation parks. It is no surprise when both boys jump at the chance. The Hunt brothers, Roger and Hal, travel all around the world, studying and capturing animals and learning to survive on the African veldt, desert islands and Arctic tundra. The stories are sort of Gerald Durrell meets the Hardy Boys. They’re great fun to read and a learning experience. I love them.

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