Friday, 12 August 2016

Happy 6th Blog Birthday to us. 2600 reviews down, many many more to go!

On this very day 6 years ago we started ReadItDaddy. Or to be more accurate, my wife came up with this crazy idea of me starting a book blog to try and build up a list of the many, many books we hauled home from the library every week.

Abingdon Library - as we've mentioned many times on the blog - is still our go-to place for awesome and astounding books, and we're so very lucky that the library is still well stocked and funded enough to keep going when so many others have had their funding slashed, and have been forced to close.

We definitely do not take the place for granted and if there's one message we've come across many many times on our blog voyage, it's that libraries need your help and your support so PLEASE use this fantastic resource if you've got it, and if you can.

Our first review was for a book that has since been read and re-read so many times that we almost know it off by heart. Coming from that magical era of US children's publishing that spawned so many classic children's books, and also built the strong foundations and templates for children's books to follow for decades and generations to come, Gene Zion and Margaret Bloy Graham's sublime "No Roses for Harry" tells the simple tale of a black and white dog who gets the most terrible lime green and yellow-rose decorated sweater from his doting Grandma. Harry, being a mischievous pup, tries all sorts of ways to accidentally 'lose' that terrible sweater but in the end a bird comes to his aid. Has Harry really seen the last of that dreadful thing?

So THAT'S where it got to!
One of the reasons I made a bee-line for this book for Charlotte's library pile was because I had such strong memories of the "Harry" books as a kid. There were several in my school library (and sadly although there are only four still in print, there were quite a few more if I recall correctly so if any publishers fancy reprinting the rest, you'd win a fan for life!)

Charlotte was 2 at the time we started the blog but both my wife and I had been reading books to her from birth. By the time "Harry" came around she was an inquisitive, curious little book-lover and delighted in this tale of a naughty little dog and his antics. We borrowed the other Harry books from the library and eventually bought our own copies because we ended up adding them to our library loans pile so frequently it seemed rude not to actually buy the durned things! So "Harry the Dirty Dog", "Harry by the Sea" (Charlotte's absolute favourite by a mile), and "Harry and the Lady Next Door" are now in our collection.

On our 6th anniversary of writing the blog, so much has changed in all our reading tastes. Picture books are still loved but we find ourselves increasingly working through piles of awesome middle grade and chapter books, and of course covering as many non-fiction titles as we can lay our hands on.

We never expected to be sent books to review. We still find that hugely satisfying and we also love the fact that even though we don't cover self-published titles, authors of those titles still regularly try their luck and value our opinion enough to drop us a line. Sometimes it's just nice to hear from folk who are doing something different, writing new and original stories that they're trying to get 'out there'.

There have been so many happy memories of people we've met through the blog, including fabulous authors and illustrators who we're still humbly a bit embarrassed to introduce ourselves to (and it's still such a giggle when they know us, and the blog AND like what we do!) We'd get out there more, but holding down a full time job and Charlotte being at school during the week really does mean we only get out on special occasions when the timing is perfect  - Always fantastic to get to do that from time to time.

Without a doubt it's been such a huge benefit to Charlotte's reading, writing and English skills, such a huge boost to her curiosity and imagination from reading all those books and writing about them between the two of us (and I should point out that my wife is definitely the unsung hero of this blog, who puts in just as much effort as I do when it comes to sourcing and reading the most amazing stories, or catching up with the most brilliant non-fiction titles we can find).

As we move more towards chapter books, non fiction books, comics and material for older readers we still can't 'quit' picture books and we're still delighted and dazzled every week when we see what's new, what's coming, and just how hard publishers, PRs, authors, artists, designers and everyone else in the children's publishing industry work to bring us such amazing titles week after week, month after month and year after year.

Finally the last words should come from Charlotte. I asked her recently what she thought about the prospect of "Read It Daddy" one day closing its doors, publishing our last article and she was adamant that she would NOT let that happen, no way no day!

She also regularly talks about one day being "Read it, Charlotte" and taking over entirely. Her typing skills are coming along and though most of the time she's far too busy to write up our articles, she's still the beating heart of what we do here and always will be.

So you're stuck with us for the time being.

So Happy 6th Blog Birthday to us and a solidly heartfelt and huge thank you to all the amazing people who've helped us carry on with the blog and thank you so much to all the folk who regularly drop by to read what we have to say.