The Importance of Reading in Childhood


In March we released The Truth Lies Buried by Morton S. Gray in paperback. Today on the blog, Morton emphasises the importance of reading in childhood and talks about her own reading experiences as a child. 

My mother always read to me when I was young. As a result, I was reading myself aged four and well before I went to school a couple of days after my fifth birthday. I have fond memories of snuggling up to my mother’s side and listening to stories of fairies, giants and twins. I still have a few of the books from this time. Reading was just something we did for enjoyment and togetherness.

We used to go as a family to the local library every Saturday morning and all head off to different sections – me to children’s, Mom to fiction and Dad to local history. Our house was always full of books. Mom and Dad belonged to mail order book clubs and books would arrive in the post at regular intervals. In fact, the headboard of their bed incorporated shelves which had loads of books on them. I have no pictures of it, but can visualise it so easily in my mind – I wish I still had that headboard now!

Nan used to read to me on Sundays too, as well as teaching me to play card games. She usually read Rupert stories, pronounced the character names adorably strangely and tended to fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, leaving me to wonder how the story ended until she woke up.

My infant and junior school essays were full of caves, buried treasure and big brothers, stories mainly influenced by my love of Enid Blyton books. If you look closely at my novels, you can still see these influences even now, as I don’t believe my themes have progressed far from those early days! I still have a set of Famous Five and Secret Seven books which my nan sourced from somewhere.

I think I must end this post with a plea – if you have children or grandchildren please read to them, engender this love of books which will help them through life, bereavement, sickness and all that this world can throw at them. I truly believe it is vitally important in this digital age that we don’t lose the love of reading a good story (even if it is read digitally). I don’t think I would be an author without these early influences.

The Truth Lies Buried is available as a paperback, in eBook on all platforms and also as an audio book on Amazon and Audible. Click on the cover image above for purchasing options. 

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Reading about Heroes

I’ve been thinking about heroes – well, not all the time obviously – but trying to fathom what it is in romantic fiction that draws a reader to a male character. One only has to think of Mr D’Arcy in Pride and Prejudice, with his haughtiness, condescension and controlled sexuality for most of us to give a sigh. And how we feel about Colin Firth in the role and coming out of the lake in his wet shirt I’ll leave to your imagination. And it’s true that so many romantic novels have as their hero a character who at first seems cold and sarcastic. If D’Arcy had been open minded, friendly and less conscious of his own superiority, would he have been such an interesting character? I doubt it.

So why do women feel a frisson and want to turn the pages to discover more about these fascinating men. And why do we find them so fascinating? An element of danger perhaps and we all know that women are attracted by power and wealth. I regard reading as a form of escapism, and many of us put down a novel feeling refreshed having lived other lives between the cover. There would be little of that in a novel where the ‘love interest’, resembled the boring guy next door.


Which brings me to reading habits. Since I’ve begun writing, I find it difficult to fit in daytime reading, usually leaving it until I go to bed. And yet from childhood I’ve been a bookworm. Holidays are now an oasis of dedication to books, reassured that as I’m out in the open air and relaxing that’s okay then – no guilt that I should be furthering the current novel. But one skill I have never mastered is to read more than one book at the same time. A single-minded person, that’s me. It would be interesting to hear whether others’ reading habits have changed since they became writers.

Margaret James on how to teach quantum physics to your mum…

I married a physicist, so I suppose it was only natural (or was it?) that my children should both become scientists.

Anyway – my new year’s resolution (I know, like promises and pie crusts they’re made to be broken) is to educate myself about things which are currently a mystery to me, and to get me started Senior Daughter has bought me Chad Orzel’s bestseller, How To Teach Quantum Physics To Your Dog.
The theory is, if a dog can understand quantum physics, so can I.

We’ll see!

In the meantime, I’ll carry on writing romantic fiction, and wondering if my grandchildren will inherit any of my novel-writing DNA?

Christine Stovell: How Do You Read?

Do you like to curl up with a good book? Of course you do! That’s probably why you’re reading this blog, to discover a bit more about Choc Lit titles and their authors. But how about curling up with an ebook reader? Aah! Well, until last week, when I received a shiny new ebook reader as a surprise birthday gift, I always thought of myself as a loyal ‘real’ book reader. What could beat the pleasure of a beautifully-produced book or – and you’ll know the feeling if you’re a Choc Lit fan – running your fingers over a gorgeous cover? Except then I discovered a whole new experience; a mobile library, the size and weight of a paperback and I fell in love with my ebook reader too! Or maybe you’re a fan of audiobooks? Listening to Julia Barrie reading ‘Turning the Tide’ added a whole dimension (and some unexpected accents!) to my novel.

In the end what matters most about the way we read is not how that experience is delivered, but that we engage with and are entertained by what we read. My first ebook choice (after Turning the Tide – there, I admit it, I had to do it) was ‘Wuthering Heights’. I hardly noticed that it was a nineteenth century novel on a twenty-first century piece of kit because Emily Bronte’s remarkable book had me spellbound all over again… and that’s my idea of a great read, no matter how it comes!

Margaret James on One Day


I must admit that I don’t read many novels written by men.  Or at least, I don’t read the testosterone-fuelled stuff about blokes stomping off into the jungle and discovering ancient civilisations, or gunning down their enemies with every weapon known to mortal man.

But one novel that’s been riding high in the charts ever since it was published, and has a huge following of both male and female readers, is David Nicholls’s wonderful One Day, and it richly deserves its success. It’s the story of working class, clever Emma and middle class, not quite so clever Dexter, who meet on the day of their graduation, and whose lives are entwined from then on.

The story is told from both Emma’s and Dexter’s points of view, and both of them come across as more real than real. As I read, I felt I knew these two people. I understood (and empathised with) Dexter’s neediness, and the self-destructive tendencies that caused him to make a total idiot of himself. I understood Emma’s insecurities that led her to embark on an unsuitable affair, and to marry the wrong man.  I won’t spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t yet read this novel, but I must warn you – have your Kleenex ready!