Book swap at the Imagine Children’s Festival, Southbank Centre, London

Book swap

BookswapThis week on Our Time of Gifts, we visited the London Children’s Book Swap at the Southbank Imagine Children’s Festival.

We’re regular frequenters of our local library. It’s great to have an almost bottomless supply of brain food, without having to fork out for it.

But giving books away?

To be honest, I find it incredibly difficult to part with anything I’ve enjoyed reading. Even a newspaper.

Children, on the other hand, grow out of books. I couldn’t have borne to give away any of their old favourites. Even those soulless ‘That’s Not My…..’ books are tinged with memories of sitting with a soft bundle on my lap, reaching his or her chubby arms out to touch tBook Swaphe pictures.

But we do possess a fair few tomes that neither of the children have ever taken to. So, under the buggy those books went, and off to the train station we tramped.

And it was worth it: for the pain of parting with books that will never again be picked up, we managed to acquire some good quality volumes, including Dinosaur Sleepover by Pamela Duncan Edwards (which I’ve already been asked to read six times by Austin).

The Bookswap was part of a London-wide initiative, with events in a few different places, including the Polka Theatre, Barbican Children’s Library, and Discover Children’s Story Centre. It’s been running for three years now, and I hope that, with the growth in popularity of World Book Day, it’s likely to continue. At the Southbank, the London Book Swap was accompanied by a children’s clothes exchange and, even though we only set out to go there for the morning, we ended up spending most of the day out and about.

2014-02-15 12.04.44cropI’ve written about a more recent trip to Imagine elsewhere on this site. During this 2014 trip to the Royal Festival Hall, Austin, Gwen and their friends were entertained by a time machine, where they grooved around in front of the camera, then watched their dance sequence played back, either slowed down or in double-quick pace.

This was all go2014-02-15 11.45.30cropod practice for the Pedal Disco, which was held in the Clore Ballroom for most of the day (with regular visits from a splendidly camp party host, and a charismatic DJ).

Pedal disco

A thrifty week, then, this one. We gave away some books, and took some free ones back in exchange.

Valentine’s Day also fell in this week. D and I aren’t big on giving each other cards and flowers, unless it’s when the mood takes us. In fact, D was away on Valentine’s night, so I spent the evening blubbing over a girly film (Never Let Me Go – the sort that he would shift and sigh through, if I had made him watch it with me).

But the week wasn’t without its romance. The kind people at Imagine offered me press tickets to see Polly Dunbar (creator of Tilly and Friends) in a performance based around her new book. I wasn’t able to go with Gwen, so I offered the tickets to D. He, in turn, has guest written a post for this blog, which saves me an evening’s work.

Do go and check it out. It’s well-written; I might even consider giving him a regular slot…what do you think?

Click here to read more about Imagine Children’s Festival.


  • Hellie's Corner
    February 25, 2014 at 10:14 am

    The book swap sound like a great idea, I hate getting rid of books but the house would be so full if I didn’t ( I have a draw full of horrible science books I don’t want part with).

  • Mumbling Wildly
    February 25, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    The book swap is such a good idea, you can never predict what books are going to gel with which children, & I always thinks books are improved with a good story about how you got them.

    Sounds like you’ve made the most of this half term! The filmed dancing sequence sounds ace, I can imagine mine would have stayed there for obscene amounts of time.

    We had mixed emotions about Never Let Me Go in our house. I enjoyed it, but couldn’t really get past the different picture I had of it in my mind. Charlie hated it at first, but then slept on it & said it had got to him more than any film in years. Unpredictable.

  • Actually Mummy...
    February 26, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    This is a lovely idea. We often pick up used books at the library. Unfortunately neither of my children, but especially GG, seem willing to part with any. We still have most of our baby and toddler books!

  • Liska @NewMumOnline
    February 27, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I am glad it is not just me that struggles to even throw out a newspaper – I am SUCH a hoarder!

    That pedal disco sounds like Aaron’s idea of heaven xx

  • Pippa Ainsworth
    February 28, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I love the idea of the book swap. We buy books in charity shops sometimes and usually send any unwanted titles back there bu this would be a great way of trying out new reads, especially if they are changing their reading style.

  • Helen Neale (@KiddyCharts)
    February 28, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    This is a lovely idea – it is so hard passing on books, but wonderful to think that they are going somewhere that they will be loved. We usually go to charity shops to pass on our books, but I hope this idea spreads as would love to see it locally too.

  • suzanne3childrenandit
    February 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Lovely idea to let your DH guest post on your blog – I’m not sure I could trust mine! I know what you mean about giving away books, I’ve often off-loaded many of ours but there are certain favourites that hold so many dear memories, that I will be keeping them forever!

  • Sarah Bailey
    March 1, 2014 at 9:57 pm

    What a neat idea, I’m a little like you I refuse to let got of certain books – but I don’t mind letting some go sometimes – I have done book crossing in the past but I never had any of the books I realised logged so I gave up. x

  • Grace
    March 2, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Such a good idea!! I loved reading this post and onlt wished that things wernt all in london I mean it isn’t a massive journey but with two children makes it all the more further. I’m happy in a way to see it isn’t just me and mine that don’t do valentines although I do tend to get rather down hearted when the day approaches. Anywho great post as always! 🙂

  • Jen aka The Mad House
    March 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

    The book swap is a great idea, I hate getting rid of books but the house would be so full if I didn’t. Both the boys have book cases in their rooms and we have books in every room in the house!

  • Kizzy
    March 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    What a fantastic idea and looks like it was a great day!

  • Ellen
    March 4, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    Book swap sounds like a great idea, especially when you consider the cost of new children’s books!!


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