Bookish Memories – Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank

I first read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl in the school summer holidays when I was eight years old. My mum had been helping out a friend of hers who was disabled (mum used to go and help her clean the house, and she’d make her lunch and anything else she needed). So in the school holidays mum used to take my younger brother and me with her. We were allowed to take a couple of quiet toys with us (in my case books, obviously!) and we had to sit quietly in a room together while mum got her jobs done.

As I’ve said in my previous Bookish Memories post (Link here) my choice of books was never censored. On the condition that I looked after the books properly, I was allowed to choose any book I wanted from my parents’ study. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young girl caught my eye simply because it was the diary of a young girl and I was a young girl so there was no way I wasn’t going to want to read it. I had no concept of what the book was about at the time, I was only eight. My mum was happy for me to read the book and, as she always did when I picked up a grown-up book, she just made sure I knew I was to ask questions about anything I didn’t understand.

So, that summer I began to read about Anne Frank but my brother constantly got on my nerves making a noise in the room we’d been told to stay in so I wandered around this big house my mum was helping clean and I found the cloak room where all the coats and shoes were kept. I curled up on a big cushion and I read and read and read. I had no idea what was going to happen to Anne Frank and I remember being quite confused at the ending because it was so abrupt. I’d obviously not fully understood why Anne Frank and her family were hiding away in the attic in the first place. My mum did sit down with me later and she explained, so I did come to grasp what her family were hiding from and why Anne Frank died.

It’s a strange thing though because when I think back to that summer I just loved reading about Anne Frank. I found her funny and endearing; she seemed like a lovely girl who was really clever and I admired her. I could even identify with some of the things she said and the things she felt. I didn’t really understand that she was in fear for her life, I took the bits that were relevant to me and those are the bits I remember from that summer. This is why I think children should be allowed to read uncensored, because a child only takes away the things they can understand, relate to and process; everything else fades into the background.

I’ve re-read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl quite a few times since the summer I was eight. As I’ve got older and more widely read, I’ve obviously come to learn so much more about WW2. Reading about Anne Frank as an adult, with greater knowledge about what her family were hiding from, with a real awareness of the unrelenting fear they must have been feeling, I mainly feel heartbreak and anger at what she, and millions of others like her, went through. It’s all heightened by the overwhelming realisation of just how young Anne Frank was. Reading this as an eight year old, Anne Frank at thirteen seemed so much older and wiser than me. Reading it again as an adult, it is apparent that Anne Frank, although wise beyond her years in some respects, was just a very young girl who should have had a whole life in front of her.

This is still a book I treasure, it’s such an incredibly important book and one that everyone, children included, should read. The photo at the top of this post is the very copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl I read when I was eight. It’s more battered than I would like but it was my mum’s secondhand copy, so it’s a book that has obviously been read many times even before it came to be mine. It just never fails to amaze me how we can fall in love with books in different ways every time we re-read them, or how we come to discover new things about the books or even ourselves.

Please feel free to share some of your Bookish Memories in the comments below!

Bookish Memories: How my love of reading began!

I started this book blog off with the intention of it being a place to review books but also to share my bookish memories. So today will be my first in this series. Some of these bookish memories will be very short and some will be much longer but they will be random snippets of my life. I intend for this series to be in no particular order but for my first post it seems only right to start at the beginning with how I came to be such a bookworm!

I was very lucky to be brought up by a mum who believed that I should be allowed to read whatever I wanted and she never allowed anyone to censor my reading material, regardless of what I picked up. Mum always knew what I was reading and she was always happy to sit with me and answer any questions I had but she never once told me to put a book down. I am sure this is what set off my life-long love of books.

Childhood Faves

As a very young child, when I was still learning to read, my favourite book was Miffy in the Snow by Dick Bruna. I loved this book so much that it became my equivalent of a comfort blanket! I took it everywhere with me, I slept with it under my pillow and I used to get distraught if my mum couldn’t find it. I still have my original copy.

I was also obsessed with Moschops (I’m really showing my age now!) and was so happy a few years ago to find my Moschops annual when clearing out my mum’s attic.

I remember one very exciting Christmas when I opened a gift from my cousin in America and found a copy of Snow White but it wasn’t an ordinary story because I was in the book, the house where I lived was in it too! It was like magic had happened, I still treasure that book now (even though I obviously now know that it wasn’t magic. *sad face*).

The last book that I’ve kept from my childhood that I want to mention today is Roald Dahl’s Danny the Champion of the World. I was 6 when I first read this book and I’ve read it many, many time since. I’m not sure why this book appealed to me so much over all the other fab Roald Dahl books but I absolutely adored it.

I could read on my own before I start school, and within my first year at infant school I was already reading books from the junior school’s library. Once I got to junior school, aged 7, the school had ran out of books for me to read. I had read them all! From this point on I was allowed to bring my own books in from home to read.

My mum used to take me to the local public library as frequently as she could, usually it was twice a week with extra visits as and when we had the time. I was allowed to take out 7 books on my child’s ticket, and my mum used to let me borrow a further 10 on her adult ticket. I had out-read the children’s section by the time I was 7 and this led to my mum asking the librarian to allow me to read books from any section of the library I chose. Unfortunately, the librarian was a real stick-in-the-mud and absolutely refused, she didn’t believe children should be allowed access to books above their age range. My mum was furious! She persisted until the library eventually relented.

That library was a magical place for me. I was very lucky that I had a lot of books of my own at home, I always got books for Christmas and birthdays, plus I saved my pocket money for books too, but at the speed I read I needed the library. It was a place that had a seemingly unlimited supply of books and I was allowed to read all of them, and I didn’t have to save money or wait for a special occasion to get them! i’m getting butterflies in my tummy now as I write this and remember that time.

I read a lot of fiction, I read books about space travel, I read biographies, and I even read the whole Encyclopaedia Britannica from A right through to Z (yes, I was that child!)… I had the world at my feet and it was just the most wonderful time. I would spend ages choosing which books to check out at each visit, I liked to get a few from each section so I would have a wide variety to choose from when I got them home to cover whatever mood I might be in.

I had a little Mr Men night light that was originally a light that was left on all night in my bedroom to keep the monsters away but as I got a little bit older I used to keep it under my duvet so I could keep reading after I’d long been told to turn my light off for bed. I would often be found on a morning asleep with my book still in my hand and my night light glowing away at the bottom of my bed! I’m sure many bookworms will have done the very same. It’s funny now that as an adult living in my own home, I now read into the early hours on my Kindle Voyage (which is front lit) so as not to wake my husband by having a lamp on.

So, that’s how my love of books began! I’ll be sharing more of my bookish memories very soon but in the meantime please share some of your book-related childhood memories in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!

Bookish Memories

One of my biggest reasons for starting this book blog was so I could share my stories of how books have become woven into the very story of my life. I have such vivid recollections of not only what I was reading at certain times but how the books made me feel and how that merged with my feelings of what was happening to me in real life at a particular point.

There are memories around the happiest moments, like the book I was reading the night before I got married. And the saddest – the very few books I read when my Mum was dying. But I have lots of seemingly random moments of sitting in a cloak room reading books when I went to work with my Mum in school holidays and had to sit quietly while I was there, I remember the first book I ever read that really scared me, I remember the argument my dad had with a librarian when she told him I (aged 8 at the time) shouldn’t be reading books meant for adults (my parents believed I should be allowed to read whatever I wanted and never be censored and I am eternally grateful for that), I remember the first book that I felt I had to hide from my parents due to embarrassment. And my list could go on (and on and on!).

I so often pick up a copy of a book years after I first read it and am instantly transported back to the time when I was reading it, and I find this such a wonderful thing to experience.

So, I’m going to start a regular post on here sharing these memories, picked at random. I hope you’ll enjoy reading these posts and will perhaps share some of your own bookish memories in the comments.