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The 9 year old who read 100 books in a year

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This is Lola Sanchez Farmar. She is the nine year old daughter of my great friends, Rebecca and Pablo. I recently discovered that between July 2015 and July 2016 Lola read a whopping 100 Books. I couldn’t quite believe my ears. 100? Really? 

Lola’s situation is a little (or a lot) unusual. Let me rewind a little and give you some background.

For a very long time, Rebecca and Pablo dreamt of taking their three kids out of school and having a home-schooling adventure (or un-schooling as it turned out to be) for a year. There was considerable debate around what they would do and where they would go. But in the end, over the course of a year, the five of them travelled to the following countries:

Iceland
Canada
USA
Costa Rica
Nicaragua
Cuba
Ecuador
Peru
Bolivia

Spain

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Hearing about their experiences has been awe-inspiring. They stayed with the last remaining head-shrinking tribe in the Amazon in Ecuador, kayaked across volcano crater lakes, surfed in Nicaragua, had dance and drumming lessons in Cuba, bathed in hots springs at midnight, threw themselves into a turtle conservation project in Costa Rica and so, so much more.

Being the book and children’s literacy enthusiast that I am, I was astonished when I heard that Lola, their eldest child had chomped her way through one hundred books (both paperbacks and on a kindle) whilst she was away. I caught up with Lola over the summer at Shambala Festival, shortly after her return from their epic adventure and asked her some questions.

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Have you always loved reading?

Yes, for as long as I can remember!

What kind of books did you like reading before your trip?

I liked the Biff and Chip and Magic Key books I got from school. I also remember reading The Iron Man by Ted Hughes, Rainbow Magic and Magic Animal Friends.

And whilst you were away, what kind of books did you read?

I loved the Jack Brenin Fantasy series (Catherine Cooper) and also read a lot of Michael Morpurgo. My favourite book of his is King of the Cloud Forests. David Walliams made me laugh so much. He is really funny.

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What is it that you love about reading?

I just go into the book and don’t hear anything going on around me. I’m one of the characters and I feel sad when it’s sad, or cross, or excited. Sometimes I was so into the book that I didn’t want to even do the activity of that day!

Which characters have you become?

Dickon in The Secret Garden, Tommo in Private Peaceful, Stella in Awful Auntie, both Eleanor and the Raven in the Jack Brenin series, Karli in The Elephant in the Garden and Harry in Harry Potter.

Lola, your mother told me that you spent a whole month reading books set in wartime. Can you tell me about this?

I just loved the descriptions of how people felt at these times. My favourite of all of the books I read set in war was Elephant in the Garden by Michael Morpurgo. Actually, I think this is my favourite book ever. It make me feel sad, then happy, then excited…before feeling sad then happy again. Of all the authors I’ve read, I go into Michael Morpurgo’s characters most deeply.

(Ed’s note: Lola was VERY enthusiastic about Elephant in the Garden and proceeded to tell me the whole story.)

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What would you say to children who aren’t keen on reading historical fiction?

Give them a go and you might be amazed.

Do you ever re-read books?

Yes, the ones I read a long time ago and enjoyed, I will definitely repeat them.

Do you like writing?

Yes! I like writing books! Well…I write thirty sentences but then I run out of ideas 🙂 I don’t plan a lot. I love writing stories that come from my imagination and also illustrating my stories. My two favourite things are reading and drawing and then writing comes next.

Do you like poetry?

Yes. When I was away, I loved The Christmas Truce poem. I learnt the whole poem by heart. (This comes from the poetry book What are we fighting for? By Brian Moses and Roger Stevens.)

Any ideas about what you’d like to be when you grow up?

An actress, vet or maybe an author or illustrator.

Lola, WELL DONE! This is fabulous and inspiring. As well as having all these adventures over the course of your year out from school, you have inhabited so many more worlds in these books. Keep reading and keep us updated!

Please do share this blog post with your social media networks so that more children can discover some of this fantastic children’s literature that Lola finds so special ♥︎

Have you read my latest novel, The Girl and the Sunbird? One recent reviewer said ‘It’s the best book I’ve read in a very long time.’ Click here if you’re in the UK, here if you’re in the US and if you’re in neither place, just go to your local Amazon page 🙂

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Showing 6 comments
  • Pip
    Reply

    So great to read about Lola the bookworm!

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Reply

      Ha ha, yes I wasn’t aware I must admit what a bookworm Lola was, but when I found out, knew I had to write a blog about her! 🙂

  • Renita D'Silva
    Reply

    Wow! Lola is so inspiring! Great post, Rebecca!

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Reply

      Thanks Renita, isn’t it amazing how absorbed she became in all these books! X

  • obrian henry
    Reply

    Great post!!! I remember when I was very young around the same age. I read about 5-7 books in a summer, looking at her story this beats me by a mile lol. I am glad children are still interested in reading books. Just imagine when she get much older and more mature and takes writing seriously. 🙂

    • Rebecca Stonehill
      Reply

      Thanks Henry, yes this child is one serious bookworm ha ha 😉 It will be really interesting to see which direction she goes in with her love of reading and writing 🙂

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