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