Baobab Tree Books – January’s musings

A slow burner…

Walmsleys on New Year’s Day 2023

Rachel writes –

Well Christmas has passed once again in what seems to be the blink of an eye in a flurry of family, food, presents, love and…in our case germs and lots of them! It all seems a distant memory by the third week in January but there are still a few tangled lights that need to find their way into the loft and an errant bauble rolling around collecting dust under the couch. I’m also still drawn to a nightly tipple and a cheese board at an hour which you wouldn’t even contemplate during ‘business as usual’. We put so much effort into creating the magic of Christmas and there is no greater joy as a parent than seeing your children’s excitement on Christmas eve as they speculate on Santa’s whereabouts and their faces full of awe and wonder on Christmas morning as they clutch that half-eaten carrot and wait for us to make our cuppas prolonging the anticipation of opening their presents.

And what I’m wondering now is, how many parents gave their children a gift of a book this year? Or how many adults gifted books to other children? Maybe not as their main present, as in the words of Mr Potato Head in Toy Story when one of Andy’s gifts was bed covers, “who invited that kid?” but as an extra specially chosen gift.

Well, I did! I take great pleasure in giving books tailored to children’s interests and hobbies but I’m a children’s author so I’m going to right?! I was also a little smug about my finds for my boys to be honest. I came across a beautiful illustrated, hardback copy of Michael Morpugo’s Kasper Prince of Cats which is actually signed (bonus!) in a gorgeous bookshop called Slightly Foxed in Berwick upon Tweed for my eldest. AND for my youngest a Star Wars Visual Dictionary as a complete guide to The Force Awakens, that I’d found in a local Cancer Research charity shop. So not only did I give the gift of books but second-hand books at that – win win! Both are as good as new and cost me next to nothing (combined both were less than a fiver and even my husband was impressed with my bargain buying prowess). Both totally different genres but perfectly tailored to each recipient. Both boys opened them, expressed their interest, had a wee flick, made some appreciative noises and popped them into the pile while simultaneously reaching for another present. Ron held out later than Fred, which was a surprise, and took the time to look up Kylo Ren but soon abandoned his book for his Mandalorian costume with matching mask and who could blame him?

I was not in the least bit offended. I get it. You don’t always get instant glory when giving the gift of books. There isn’t always that ‘wow’ factor. With so much going on, they are not going to take the time to actually sit and read them at that moment and we know that when we buy them and put them away for Christmas – which reminds me that I need to have a designated Christmas present storage system next year as I had the added fun of having to remember where I’d stashed them for safe-keeping having bought them in October! But the gift of a book is a slow burner… Something saved for later after all the excitement has died down… A moment of peace in an otherwise overstimulated, rowdy family affair… But when all has calmed, the Lego has been built, the nerf gun bullets have been lost and the Russian roulette of jellybeans has been played (please, please, please let it not be dog food or cabbage flavoured) that’s when the book is picked up, savoured and treasured sometimes over and over again throughout the course of the year. Normally when the gift giver is nowhere to be seen, which is just how these things go.

I even gave some of my pre-release copies of ‘Listening Ears’ to family friends and some of my most lovely friends (you know who you are and thank you) make a point of buying my books for the plethora of parties our children go to especially in those early years at school where everyone is so polite and invites the whole class. As well as being extremely proud of it and wanting to get an idea of its response, it also made sound economic sense. Why put the money into someone else’s pocket when I could recoup some of my own eye-watering costs in the time, energy and money spent into producing my own books?

Giving the gift of a book also tells your children a few things – it tells them that you believe that a book is a treat and something to be enjoyed and cherished (ideally together). It also makes books seem extra special when they are wrapped up as a present and given with love. And ultimately with the gift of a book, we are hoping that we are giving the greatest, most-helpful of all gifts – the gift of reading for pleasure.

And possibly also the gift of a longer life??!!! I’ve just read (albeit that the source was questionable) that those who read for 30 minutes a day live longer. I’m guessing that there are a few other factors involved but I’m going to roll with that main message.

So, when next buying a gift for your child or any child, gift a book and no, not necessarily one of mine (although that would be nice and greatly appreciated) but a book that you know they’ll enjoy… when the time is right. I vowed to continue to give books as presents and started off the year gifting a 4-year-old (those with birthdays in January get a raw deal don’t they?) with a set of Hairy Maclary (a classic) …alongside a lightsaber! It’s all about balance.  

Happy gifting!

Hels adds –

I have long been a believer in gifting not just exciting presents that provide instant gratification but also presents which I like to think of as ‘a hug from mom’; they are the presents that offer long term comfort and include, but are not limited to, a book (obviously), pyjamas, slippers or slipper socks (or both), a game and luxury hot chocolate.  Last year’s book for my 8-year-old daughter was ‘The Christmasaurus and the naughty list’ by Tom Fletcher; they had been reading it at school and she really wanted a copy. She took it to school with her while they were reading it and then we forgot all about it. Our year went quickly by (as years do these days) and soon we were back in November, looking for a bedtime story and my daughter said, “What about this one?”, it was ‘The Christmasaurus and the naughty list’. I agreed not really looking forward to the prospect of a long novel if I am honest but reading that book on the run up to Christmas just turned into the most magical experience.  Night after night we looked forward to and relished snuggling in bed together and reading a chapter, sometimes two, sometimes three.  On an evening it was my daughter begging to go to bed early knowing that the sooner she went to bed the longer the time we would have to read together.  Now this is what we do every night – the bedtime story is no rushed affair, it’s a tradition, a time where she has my one-on-one undivided attention.  Now she spends time over at the bookcase, inspecting each book (we have many we haven’t read yet which were once my sons handed down you see), carefully deciding which one is next and what order we will read them in.  I don’t want to say it too loudly as it’s fairly new and I don’t want to jinx it but, she might be developing a love of books!!!! 

Love Baobab Tree Books

#rachelawalmsley #baobabttreebooksblog #baobabtreebooks #helenmcknocikter #listeningears #dottythedogwalker #lovereading

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