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  • Writer's pictureEleanor Barfield

10 Reasons Why Every Child Should Grow Up in a Bookshop

Imagine growing up in a world of magic, fantasy and imagination, to be able to pick up any book and read it whenever you wanted. Well, that was my childhood; living in a bookshop, and it was fantastic!

My parents are book dealers. The smell of old books dominates the memories of my childhood. I would arrive home to be greeted by boxes of books piled high throughout the house and I would spend many of my weekends and evenings with my parents playing in their shop.

I believe growing up in a bookshop is one of the greatest pleasures a child can have. Here’s why:

1 You become a great reader

As a dyslexic, you might think reading would be something I’d avoid, and that may well have been the case had I not spent my life surrounded by books. But spending my childhood reading was probably one of the best things I could have done. I was actively encouraged to read as much as possible, with no book off limits. I credit that for helping me to overcome much of my condition.

2 You become a great storyteller

If you read every day, you learn how to construct sentences and tell a story. While I was at university, I wrote my dissertation in 2 weeks and still got a good grade. Whilst I don’t recommend this as a strategy in life, I credit a strong background in reading as the reason I managed to pull this off.

3 It can help your career

For the last 3.5 years I have worked as a writer, again something you wouldn’t expect a dyslexic to do. I don’t believe I would have coped in this career path were it not for a lifetime of reading.

4 You learn how to lift

I lost count of the number of boxes of books that fell on me. Don’t worry, I was never injured. But I’ve never been afraid of lifting heavy objects. I could lift and move a box of books safely at the age of 10, much to my mother’s distress and, unlike many of my friends, I have never been injured as an adult pulling my back out lifting with incorrect form.

5 It opens up your imagination

“Wow, you must have a great imagination” is something I’ve heard people say to me countless times. I don’t know whether this is a side effect of having your face buried in books for years of your life, or something I got from my naturally creative parents. I like to think it’s a bit of both.

6 You become tech-savvy

Now this one might seem like an oxymoron, but hear me out! My parents were one of the first sellers on Amazon and Abe, and were using computers long before that. This means I have been using a computer since the early 90s, pretty much since I could walk and talk. We were also the first people I knew to get the internet. I love computers (almost as much as books) and I think it comes as no surprise that I ended up working for a software company.

7 You learn great work ethic

This is probably true for anyone who’s parents are self-employed. If you watch your parents work 10 hours a day 7 days a week, 365 days a year, you know what “hard work” looks like.

Additionally, you’re going to end up helping them out from time to time.

It’s not child labour (although they obviously paid me). I actually used to have a blast, as a small girl, going to book fairs with my Dad and meeting completely different kinds of people, with completely different ages, backgrounds and life experiences. And, this leads me nicely on to my next point…

8 You get to spend more time with your parents

Again, this is probably true for anyone who’s parents are self-employed. Whilst my Dad did spend a lot of time on the road visiting different book fairs, I still got to spend a lot more time with my parents than I would have done, had they had a 9-5 office job and that makes me extremely lucky.

9 It’s not just books

Military medals, fossils, old photos, money from other countries, postcards, jewellery… you name it, at some point, my mum has pulled it out of a box of books. Even now, when I go back to visit, I’m still excited to see what her latest find is.

10 Book people are great people

Book dealers, readers and writers are a strange subset of people; creative, artistic, nerdy, passionate, maybe a little odd, but they are the kind of people that make the world more interesting.

I had a fantastic childhood surrounded by Winnie the Pooh, Willy Wonka, Harry Potter, the Famous Five and so many more. Whilst not everyone can grow up in a bookshop, every child can read books, and that is beautiful.


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