I was buying a couple of women's magazines this morning, mainly for the fiction as I like to read and write short stories. As always, the vast array of children's comics caught my eye and reminded me how much I used to love reading them, although most of my favourites have long gone. I could hardly wait for my weekly Bunty magazine and read it from the first issue right into my teen years, until Jackie magazine took over. Then I began reading the Bunty, Mandy and Judy Christmas Annuals I bought for my own daughter! I also read my brother's Beano and Dandy comics, and a little later I loved the American comics - especially those with strange or creepy tales.
It got me thinking about the way our love of reading is shaped as a child. Most children love to have an adult read to them from a well-loved book, and many go on to enjoy books into adulthood. Yet, according to endless statistics, far too many young people give up reading all together, especially boys. I wonder if that's as accurate a picture as we think? Lots of them might give up on books too soon, but perhaps they still enjoy comics or graphic novels, or prefer non-fiction with interesting pictures.
One of the strongest memories I have is the anticipation of the weekly episode of stories like The Four Marys and Wee Slavey, and the great variety of mystery and adventure stories. Maybe we just need to write the kind of gripping stories young people want to read today!