Monday, 22 April 2013

The poor children of historians... I'm talking about actual kids - not books, the metaphorical children. I talk about my kids all the time in teaching history. For some all too obvious reason, when I'm lecturing and searching for analogies, the first that come to mind are about the three kids under six with whom I spend most of my life. Well, them and people from the past. Dead people. What's not to compare?

There's a lovely article from Eric Hobsbawm's daughter on her father, his death, and her time with him over at FT magazine.

It did make me think about my kids in at least one way. She talks about her father's love of books - any books - anything to read at all - telephone books, recipes, whatever. That just about describes me (and my wife who reads about 2-3 times as much as me - amazing given that I pretty much spend as much free time as I can with a book). We've been getting these pamphlets home from my daughter's school about the ways to encourage reading. They say useful things like to make sure that they see you reading.

Except, of course, how the hell is this possible? Now, don't get me wrong. My daughter is already reading, and my two younger boys sit and pore through books, laboriously turning the pages and peering, peering down at the pictures. They do it all the time. But my kids barely ever see ME reading. How could they? All they see is that every surface in the house is covered with books and copies of The London Review of Books and The Literary Review of Canada and Granta and... and... . But as for us reading them? We're too busy cooking, doing laundry, and playing lego.

I do think about the books a lot though. Book, books, words... lots of thinking. Maybe that counts.

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