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Here’s Ann Pooley, telling us about her favourite books from childhood and why reading was so important and special for her.

I love to read.

When I was growing up I read nearly every book in our house;  some of them very unsuitable for a girl at primary school; but my favourite thing of all was buying a book…..a new book that nobody else had read….so once a month I’d spend  the pocket money I’d saved on a new book just for me.

Paddington Bear was an early favourite, I wanted to visit Finland when I discovered the Moomins, I adored Babar the king of the Elephants, laughed out loud at Asterix and Obelix, envied Tintin and his adventures, and thought Enid Blyton books were wonderful….kids my age going off and having adventures without parents getting in the way, fabulous!

I devoured all the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis, and loved Joan Aiken, Ursula Le Guin, writers who were able to transport you to somewhere magical.

We belonged to the library in Armagh, the town where I grew up. The library was tiny, the size of my sitting room, with a very small section of children’s books……..BUT…..OH JOY!…..when I was 10 the library moved to the old market hall……and it was HUGE!  There was a whole room of books which I felt were just for me…Wonderful!

There were even books being read aloud on TV. Every day from Monday to Friday for 15-20 minutes someone funny, or famous would read from a book so you got the whole story over five afternoons. It doesn’t sound that exciting, but it was especially when you had someone like Kenneth Williams (think David Walliams, only funnier and camper)reading ‘The Land Of Green Ginger’.  I miss Jackanory!

Here are just a few of my favourite books from when I was growing up.

‘The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase’ by Joan Aiken, where wolves invade Britain and different kings and queens sit on the throne.

‘The Children Of Green Knowe’ by Lucy Boston, about ghosts past and present who lived at a house called Green Knowe.

‘The Owl Service’ by Alan Garner, who would have thought that this would be a dark and magical tale that started with dinner plates?!

‘The Silver Sword’ by Ian Serraillier, about young refugees from Warsaw in the aftermath of The Second World War.

‘The Hound Of Ulster’ by Rosemary Sutcliff, about a mythological Irish hero, full of thrilling violence!

‘The Runaways’ by Victor Canning, about a boy called Smiler on the run after being falsely accused of theft, and a cheetah who escapes from a wildlife park after a storm…it’s one of the ‘Smiler ‘ trilogy.

I loved each and every one of these books, and countless more, and it’s been such fun remembering, it makes me want to go back and read them all again!

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