Thursday, 10 March 2011

Maybe it's because we're Londoners...

A little girl aged 4 or 5, reading her homework book on the morning bus to school. Ribbed tights, royal blue sweatshirt, matching bands on her braids.

She was reading 'Ben and Lad' from the Ginn readers series - I remember my little bro reading it maybe 20 years. And she was really enjoying the pictures and chatting to herself about the story, doing a bit of reading in between. Her mum was lovely, interested in what little girl was saying and telling her how well she was doing.

And then the girl started to stumble - she got confused between not and no, didn't get the point of the letter 't' making it different and then got in a fluster about not being able to tell that 'hello' was the same word when it appeared later on the same page. She got tearful about forgetting the word, but wasn't going to let her mum put the book back in the bookbag. 

She was looking at her big brother (8 or so) who was reading what looked like a sci-fi book with chapters and not many pictures. And at the bloke sitting by her mum - in his mid-20s with a knitty flatcap thing on, reading Animal Farm. And the lady opposite, with a newspaper - and me with my book (tho' to be fair I was watching more than reading).

It's lovely to see a little kid learning to read - and weird to remember how hard it is to learn to turn symbols into words. I hope it'll stay with her all her life.

And if she stays a Londoner, chances are she'll grow up in the habit of reading twice a day every day - on the bus or tube to and from wherever she's going. Brilliant.


  1. I think that's an excellent habit :-)
    I've always read on buses. In the beginning I got a little queasy, but after a few trips my body knew all the twists and turns of the road and I could read comfortably :-)

  2. I love seeing people reading on trains and buses and I'm always intrigued to catch a glimpse of the cover and work out what they are reading.

  3. Mostraum - yes I know what you mean; and the pendolino trains up to Manchester can have a similar effect. I think they're worse when it's windy - so am not sure how much reading I'll do on my way home for Mothering Sunday this weekend.

    Vintage Reading - oh yes. I love trying to work it out - even by reading over their shoulder to see if (a) the book title is on the top of each page or (b) I recognise the text - obviously almost never. It's another bad thing about e-readers - we'll stop having those magic moments when you're reading the same as someone else.

  4. How wonderful! I do the majority of my reading on the tube/bus these days - so much so that now that I am trying to cycle instead, my reading is really suffering!

  5. I feel for you - I tried audiobooks during my walking-to-work period, but that won't be safe on a bike.

    I'm fairly sure I remember reading somewhere that Londoners read a lot more than other Brits because so many people spend so long commuting - writing this post I was thinking about how lovely it is to see the next generation being brought up into our world (and love) of reading, but I wonder if the new dawn of cycling will put an end to it?