Sunday, 26 July 2015

Introduction: The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Reading to Children

You know that feeling- when you have been dragged out of bed at six am, played vikings, watched an imaginary falconry show, applied two plasters to minuscule injuries, saved a light bulb from the brink of smashdom, served two different breakfasts, and played dinosaurs, and you sit and look pleadingly at the clock to calculate how long it is until bedtime- then you discover that it isn't 8 am yet. This is the time to Bring out the Books!

Motherhood has dragged me into the world of horses, farming, fighting (sometimes of the play variety), building, mud, and machinery. Matt is never happier than chasing me with a stick sword or making me his bucking bronco at the rodeo. It is not least due to this fact that books play a significant role in our lives. Books give us an opportunity to slow down. To create closeness. To sit and have quiet time together. (Except those books with noise tabs. Who invented those? Whilst I am on this subject who decided that libraries need tunnels, tents, or mock hot air balloons? Matt may embrace it but I am not so sure).

Despite the sideshows, we make regular library visits and we read most days whether it be at home, in the car, the garden, the woods; anywhere and everywhere. Don't be thinking us a pair of nerdy bespectacled geeks - that only applies to one half of this duo. I have been an avid reader since the days of yore and have fond memories of Billy Blue Hat. How wonderful it is to be able to share this life enhancing hobby with my young son. And it is. Most of the time. The joy we share when we receive an Amazon parcel is pretty epic. Matt is also up for most book adventures but he is possibly the most enthusiastic about reading at bedtime. It is his favourite form of sleep aversion. I usually open the bidding with a couple of books. This can be dependent on what I fancy reading (anything by Judith Kerr), what issues need addressing (Teeth are Not for Biting), what is on the forthcoming agenda in the real world (George's First Day at Playgroup), or what I have the energy for (Cowboy Small). Matt then selects a small hoard to add to the pile. After we have read all of these he will ask for another last story. And I will relent. (And hope for the best.)

Most of the time our reading journey is exciting, amusing, and fulfilling, but sometimes not so much. Reading had always been a solitary affair for me but now it involves a demanding, opinionated, and active audience. Sometimes reading requires more energy than I have, sometimes we want different types of stories, and sometimes the material is hard to work with. Yup, I am afraid that there are some books I would gladly pop in the charity bag if it wasn't for the enjoyment on Matt's face. Although the smile could be from making me read said book time and again. Sometimes, the last thing I want to do in an evening is read a chaotic book with lots of words; the last thing I may care about on a given night is whether Wibbly Pig brushes his teeth or whether we will get the Little Red Train back to it's shed, but on we read.

This is the point of the blog. We are exploring the world of children's literature as a mismatched pair in a three legged race. There are lots of laughs, moments of brilliance, and wonderful closeness. The process is good for you and character building, but also, sometimes, it feels like one is being dragged as the other tries to race ahead. Sometimes, it is like hobbling through treacle, wearing flip flops. Often, we want to go in different directions, at different speeds, and one is much in need of a sports bra. But we keep going. (I almost stretched the metaphor and went with it is a marathon not a sprint. Imagine the shame if I had kept it in.) We may not always be on the same page but, side by side, we are forging ahead on our journey and building a great relationship to books together. This is crucial before Matt becomes an independent reader and our book adventures will head in a different direction.

This blog is about the fun and failures we have as we try to master the art of reading together. We aim to celebrate our love of books and share some of the highlights of our reading adventure- the Good (Little Wolf), the Bad (Tempered LadyBird), and the Ugly (Duckling). It is an attempt to preserve some of the moments we share as we read, to recommend the books we enjoy; to review the body of literature; and to reflect on what remains to be written...
N.B. There is another potential reader in the house: The Dad. However, as Matt tells anyone who will listen- Daddy cannot read me stories as he misses pages out. This man cannot be trusted but we will continue to retain him for swing pushing duties only.


  1. Wowsers, what an amazing first post on your shiny new blog. Woo hoo! Let the journey begin. Very proud xxx

  2. Brilliant first blog Emma. Amazingly written x

  3. You did it! no bottling it this time! i cant wait to read more. Come to our house and borrow some books we have a small library here xx

  4. Wow Emma, brilliantly written! Imagine my dismay when the penny dropped that Lauren preferred Stan's reading to mine! I read with loads of expression, different voices etc. He read, I thought, too quickly in a monotone voice. She loved the speed and always wanted her Dad to give her the bedtime story! Interesting? Love Debs

    1. Thanks Carol. How disappointing for you. You could read to me anytime. Especially about Warthogs and Hippos.