Is it all because of Ladybird books?

Would I even be here if it weren’t for Ladybird books?

Years ago I blogged (rather peculiarly, it strikes me now) about Ladybird books, and how they were not part of my past, and how I almost resented this. But now it seems to me as though that one book I bought at the age of ten and could barely read, might have set me up for life. Where would I be if I hadn’t?

I have always ‘blamed’ my fascination for the UK on Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, and while it is still true that they inspired me, I now feel I must add my sensible Ladybird book. People here think back to those days, when both they and Britain were different. I actively went in search of this charming country where children walked around in those T-bar shoes and boys wore shorts and had haircuts like they did in old films.

And there was cake.

I so wanted to go and see the Ladybird exhibition in Bexhill; not just for the books, but for the De La Warr Pavilion as well. But it was all too much at the other end of the country to be realistic. The exhibition is in London now. Can I make it to London? I don’t know.

The article in the Guardian a few weeks ago made me feel many things. It was fascinating to read that someone’s real birthday party actually ended up in the book. I mean, surely that’s the complete opposite of today’s fantasy books; finding your own reality in a book. I knew I wanted to be part of it, except you can’t wish your own past away.

Perhaps I can take up collecting Ladybird books? Not terribly original as ideas go, but maybe I can fake a new past? I never did wear shoes like that. The one time I got close to it, the woman in the shoeshop pointed out I was an adult and couldn’t have them.

5 responses to “Is it all because of Ladybird books?

  1. Must investigate these Ladybird books!

  2. Part of my childhood, Ladybird books. Have very clear memories of the Cinderella book from the 60s – especially the dresses!
    Also a Snow White and Rose Red from 1969.
    I even wrote a short story insoired by the Cinderella book. They really did shape my ideas of feminine beauty 🙂

  3. Nice post. I can see how happy, inspiring and positive the Ladybird books must have been for some children, but I’ve always found the Utopian sunshine a bit awkward. Me, probably, not the books!

    A child in my class sometimes brought in her battered copy of “Tootles the Taxi” for me to read at Story Time. It’s a dense, dull text for reading aloud (12 lines/ couplets to a page, I think) and the pictures too small for easy showing to a class of 34 five year olds, which meant her eager offering needed much tact and small extracts. But their information books did offer lots of valuable information – and I’d never thought about the Ladybird’s valuing of all kinds of work before. Thanks for the link to the missed article, Bookwitch. Interesting!.

  4. Son loved Tootles, and I didn’t mind reading it. But there are probably better books for sharing.
    (He owned, and still owns, quite a few Matchbox taxis. When we pruned them a couple of years ago, many of them had to remain.)

  5. Marianne Wheelaghan

    I don’t remember any Ladybird books in the house when I was wee – my mother was German so maybe that had something to do with it. But for whatever reason I always thought they were boring. But when my children were wee a friend recommended them. When I made a face she said that children feel a huge sense of accomplishment being able to read a Ladybird Book because they they are like mini grown-up books. And once they are able to read one, they will want to read more. And this is exactly what happened with my children. I think they read almost all of them – along with lots of other books. They still seem old fashioned to me, though, and I don’t know if my daughter, who is about to have a baby in September, will give her children ladybird books to read but she may 😉

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