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Adrian Varkel: Start Them Young on the Library Run

Little Lucky LoloLittle Lucky Lolo and the Very Big BoyBy Adrian Varkel for The Times

I am never quite sure where my interest in reading and books began.

Strangely enough, I cannot clearly remember my parents reading to me, but I know they did. Whatever they did, it must have rubbed off on me somehow as I remember many exciting trips to the big Sea Point library, using my own library card and returning home with as many books as I was allowed to take out.

I would read avidly in the dark, and because I shared a room with my younger brother, much of this was done under the bed covers with a torch.

As a I grew up I found the library had books to match my changing interests. Whatever I liked they had.

I was always amazed by the concept of the library, even as a young child. It impressed me as being one of the last bastions for good. There were people to help you, you were allowed to take out books free, and they trusted you to return them, too. If only the rest of world could operate this way.

The library and my stints under the covers have kept me enjoying books in my adulthood, even though the world has changed so much around me. I still prefer reading a story to watching the 3D surround- sound version of it. The book’s imagery is more vivid, the enjoyment I get out of the story is deeper and the relationships I have with the characters are more significant.

For these reasons I take my children to the library every week, even though people say it is antiquated and dirty. They are as excited as I used to be, which is warming to see, considering the multitude of alternative technology-based entertainment they have at their disposal.

And every night they excitedly haul out a library book for me to read before bed (often they will try to sneak in a second book).

Story time is not a time to be rushed, even at the end of a long, tiring day. My children notice things I do not in the pictures and the words. They are always excited to ask questions and they love to laugh hard at the silliest things.

Their pure pleasure and curiosity about the story inside the covers of the book are some of the reasons why I began to write children’s books.

This is our first and possibly last chance to get children interested in books. It is what got me hooked.

It’s never too late to start reading, for yourself or to your children.

Varkel heads the digital division for Ogilvy Cape Town. He and his wife, Stacy, have two children, Seth and Ava. He has written two children’s books, Little Lucky Lolo and Little Lucky Lolo and the Very Big Boy (both Pan Macmillan). Send your comments to or

  • Little Lucky Lolo and Little Lucky Lolo and the Very Big Boy are published by Pan Macmillan

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