When I was six, I opened one of her favourite book series, a 1930s serial about a character called Beverly Gray, and realised that I could read. I remember it to this day, that lightbulb going off in my head as I discovered that words together formed sentences and sentences formed paragraphs formed chapters.
I couldn't stop reading after that. I read the whole of the Beverly Gray series that long hot summer.
When I went back to school (age seven), I headed straight for the library in search of more books to read.
When I presented my stack of chapter books to the librarian she said, no, you're not allowed to borrow those books. The books were classified according to age.
I must have looked miserable because she sighed and said, all right, read this one aloud and prove that you can read. She made me read a paragraph from one book. And then another. And then another. And then she compromised and allowed me to borrow one of the books if I took one title from the younger reader section.
The majority of book publishers have just backed plans to print age guidance on their books.
In a Guardian piece titled Don't tell me how to buy books , Jack Hope denounces the idea as cynical:
The proposed move fundamentally misunderstands the egalitarian nature of reading - the idea that any reader can choose to read any book - and the choices all readers employ at times to challenge or soothe themselves. It also fails to understand the complex process of choosing the right books for the right child.It does make me wonder. What will the kids make of it? Will the slow readers skulk around pretending that they are looking at picture books for phantom baby brothers? Will those kids who've had the reading lightbulb go off in their heads find themselves banished to the early reader department?
Here we go again.