In case you need a book

Last year an author facebook friend described a long train journey she’d just made. On her train was a young child, whose parents had not thought to bring anything at all to entertain their child with, and who told their daughter off for whining.

After a while the child came and sat next to FF and asked to have stories from her book (which I think was an adult one). Luckily FF is an author, so was the right kind of person to make stories up on the spot. The child was happy, FF was annoyed with the parents, and they clearly had no thought of stranger danger. No need to, with FF, but they couldn’t know that.

It was lucky that this didn’t happen to me. I’m not good with children at the best of times, and as for improvising and making my adult noir into something child friendly, I doubt I’d be able to.

But I’d want to.

You can’t really tell perfect strangers to buy books for their children. Or borrow them from the library. I suppose that if you had a conversation with them, you could casually mention how useful you find books on journeys. Hint, hint.

I always carry reserves of ‘everything;’ food, books, cardigans, umbrellas. For me. But I’m thinking that there is little – except sheer size and weight of luggage –  to stop me from travelling with reserve reading material for children. I am well placed for it, seeing as most of the time I tend to have a few books I don’t need. I really could take books out with me with the intention of giving them to someone who needs them. Sort of World Book Day every day.

Would you let your child receive a book from a strange witch? How is it different from handing out sweets with an ulterior motive? And if it worked, what to do if another child sees you and wants one too?

No, I think I shall continue frowning, and looking downright unfriendly and unapproachable. It’s worked fine for years.

5 responses to “In case you need a book

  1. Train journeys are a little different from the park or the street as everyone is part of a captive audience for a while and parents can monitor their kids’ actions. Handing out books? Hmm, not sure. But I’ve told stories to our kids on trains (not much good at normal conversation, see) and my wife once had a slightly inebriated gent tell a wonderfully entertaining version of a folk tale to our pre-schooler, and it was clear he relished it before getting off at the next stop (whew).

    I too would be irritated at the inadequate parents and tempted to suggest parenting classes. Silently, of course.

  2. If any of my children were playing up on a train (which they wouldn’t do because they are always impeccably behaved!) I would be embarrassed to be disturbing everybody else. So if a stranger gave them something to occupy them and it kept them quiet for a while, I would take it, whilst trying not to cringe about being shown up for not remembering to bring anything myself.

  3. Nicola, I have always found your children very well behaved. (So they’re not getting any books from me!)

    Calmgrove, I suggest you have handy little leaflets on classes to hand out to any parent you find wanting.

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