The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton is the first book I remember reading by myself aged about seven. I don’t really remember being read to by my parents, although years later we found stories my dad had recorded on a reel to reel tape machine – read extremely slowly! I think that was more to do with the novelty of using the machine than opting out of reading to us.
The Magic Faraway Tree was home to creatures such as Saucepan Man, Moonface and Dame Washalot who was always chucking soapy water down the tree and soaking people. A group of children discovered the tree and were allowed to visit the different worlds which arrived at the top for short periods of time. My main memory of the stories is being anxious that the children would be unable to leave the latest ‘world’ and get back down the tree before it moved away.
Although the stories in this book were obviously complete fantasy I think I was completely absorbed by them, and this was the start of a life-long habit of reading at bedtime – usually for a great deal longer than I should have been. I would switch off the bedside light as soon as I heard anyone coming upstairs but my dad would come and feel the light bulb to see how hot it was.
By Susan Gardner