Episode 14: The Vital Spark

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What sparks a lifelong love of reading? Francis Spufford, author of The Child that Books Built, and Emily Drabble of the children’s reading charity BookTrust, delve into bookshelves past and present with the Slightly Foxed Editors to understand the alchemy that ignites the spark. From books as seductive objects, the haphazardness of alphabetical organization and disappearing libraries to the joys of cover-to-cover reading and books being doorways to new worlds, the conversation reveals what a passion for reading can bring to our lives. In this month’s dip into the magazine’s archives Ysenda Maxtone Graham gives tried and tested tips for reading aloud, grappling with Tolkien pronunciations along the way, and there’s the usual round-up of recommendations for reading off the beaten track.


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Show Notes

Please find links to books, articles, and further reading listed below. The digits in brackets following each listing refer to the minute and second they are mentioned. (Episode duration: 36 minutes; 57 seconds)

Books Mentioned

We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Anna in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.  

Golden Hill, Francis Spufford (2:23)

The Child that Books Built, Francis Spufford (2:50)

The Hobbit, J. R. R. Tolkien (3:58)

– The Jinny books by Patricia Leitch are out of print (4:46)

Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome (5:36)

High Rise Mystery, Sharna Jackson (16:35)

Burglar Bill, Janet & Allan Ahlberg (19:50)

So Much, Trish Cooke, illus. Helen Oxenbury (20:04)

The Boy in the Black Suit, Jason Reynolds (32:45)

The Cazalet Chronicles, Elizabeth Jane Howard (33:27)

– The Gate of Air, James Buchan is out of print (34:16)

Wave Me Goodbye: Stories of the Second World War, ed. Anne Boston (35:21)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles

Laura, Louisa and Me, Daisy Hay on her childhood reading and The Child that Books Built in Issue 31 (2:50)

Three in a Bed, Ysenda Maxtone Graham on reading aloud in Issue 40 (25.18)

Other Links

BookTrust is the UK’s largest children’s reading charity. They are dedicated to getting children reading, and each year they reach 3.9 million children across the UK with books, resources and support to help develop a love of reading (3:00)

Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach
Reading music: The Bluff Trail by Chad Crouch, from Album Field Report Vol 1, made available as Creative Commons thanks to www.freemusicarchive.org

The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable


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Comments & Reviews

  1. Stuart Baines says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Podcast 14. I was a late developer, not really grasping the printed word until eight or nine years of age. I can remember everything clicked into place with one particular book. It was “Susan, Bill and the Ivy Clad Oak” by Malcolm Saville. I can remember reading all the books in the Lone Pine series by this author and then moving onto the Ronald Welch Series featuring the Carey family which Slightly Foxed is reproducing. All good wishes for 2020!

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