Joy of reading and re-reading

Joy of reading. Painting of children reading in a cosy huddle
Joy of reading. Painting by Lesley Evans

 My sister Lesley Evans captures the joy of reading perfectly in this painting. Children snuggled together, totally absorbed in a story. I love that the painting shows reading as a shared activity for some, a communal activity for all the children. I love the utter peace of this painting.

It reminds me of my own childhood reading experiences. Every Friday our parents drove us to the nearest library and so if we each got four books, that added up to 24 new books. I liked reading in bed, up a tree, under a broom bush or in an abandoned fowl house. Sometimes we’d all be reading together around the fireplace in winter. Of course we shared some of the books at the very least.

I’m pretty sure we had our own copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland at home, though. And you know, we read ourselves into every book, as we do even now. Even this darling dippy fantastory is utterly familiar from our own experience, don’t you think? That’s surely part of the joy of reading.


oh yes, like you I fall asleep
in the sunshine after lunch
like you I race after pocket clocks
and dive into rabbit holes
I have swum through a pool of tears
 I have run in circles too
I am hopeless at solving riddles, I fail
I am mocked for being mock
when I swear I used to be real
I have been tall, I have been tiny
I have been dull, I have been shiny
I have been told that ninja knives
are nothing but falling leaves
and I have woken up, thank God—
only to sleep again

—Rachel McAlpine

drawing of woman falling down a hole into a rabbit warren for flowers, clocks, cards and rabbits
Falling down a rabbit hole: joy of reading

9 thoughts on “Joy of reading and re-reading

  1. I started reading when I was three and it has been one of my favorite things to do ever since. My mother read aloud to us, and I continued the tradition with my kids.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Such a joy. We are lucky people.

  2. Both you and your sister convey the pleasant absorption reading provides.

  3. Prue Densem says:

    Such a beautiful painting and oh the joy of reading as a child and with my children 🥰

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      Yes yes!

  4. This brings back happy memories of Mum reading to us by the fire before bed. She read us whole novels! The painting is lovely too because each person is absorbed in their own book yet they are together sharing the joy of that absorption.

    1. Rachel McAlpine says:

      That was quite a gift

  5. Elizabeth says:

    I love the drawing which truly does illustrate getting “lost in a book.”

  6. Nyla Carroll says:

    I remember having to close our eyes on top of our arms folded on the desk after lunch each day as the teacher read us a chapter of the latest book she had chosen – used to get completely lost in the story and reading has always been one of life’s greatest pleasures!