Thursday, 2 June 2016

World Book Day: The Return

How about a belated reflection on this year's WBD? Unless you have better things to do? Didn't think so. Off we go then.

So, I had a year to prepare for the 2016 WBD. I had planned to write my own story to read at nursery but that did not happen because... well, just because. Get off my case!

During the year since the last WBD I have often considered which books would be good to read to the nursery group. I talked to Matt about the books that he likes and that his friends may like to hear too. He was pretty unhelpful at first to be honest. I was, however, relieved that Seabiscuit dropped down the book rankings so I was saved the need to perform an exciting race commentary.

Finally, we agreed one bedtime that Off To Market would be a great choice. We were given this book by Muriel and have enjoyed it many a time. It is a lovely story set in Africa about the bus journey to the market. There is a nice moral lesson in there about young Keb having a big heart. We like the rhymes and the bright illustrations. Matt's favourite part of the story is when Keb gets a goat in the end. Oops sorry about the spoiler. I do try to adopt a very special African accent when reading this but it probably was not ready for a public outing. Furthermore, Matt does not fully appreciate my vocal skills and asks me to use my normal voice. 

Not only do we read this book a lot but we talk about it and refer to it often. It has really taken root in Matt's imagination. It has given him an insight into a different country and way of life. It has also provided a good storyline for play. We were once in a cafe and Matt was playing with the Duplo they have there. He made a bus and it only took him a couple of seconds to place the bus in this story. He could have chosen our bus trips into town when we go swimming or he could have chosen our trip on a bus to a train station but he located the bus in this very narrative and started reciting 'here comes the bus off to market today...' It was a very proud moment. 

Anyhoo, WBD was fast approaching and I casually announced to Matt that I was looking forward to reading Off To Market and he said 'Nah! We always have that book.' Mild panic set in. I remained remarkably calm given the shock and went with 'yes, but other children may not know the story so it would be nice to share it with them.' The son ended the conversation with another decisive 'Nah.'

Plan b involved hunting through his (our) bookshelves to create a short list of books that are easy to read out loud, do not contain too much text, are big and bright, and appropriate for 2-4 year olds. I presented the following books to the master decision-maker:

Matt politely (in no way whatsoever) rejected them all. They are his bedtime books and not for sharing with others. I did not realise that this was a rule.

I felt at a loss and then, two days before the big day, the wee fella provided the answer himself. 'How about The Midnight Library?' he asked. All was not lost. This was a great idea.  I should not have worried so much. In fact, I think I may handover all important decisions to the four year old. The boy pulled it out of the bag. Although, metaphorically speaking only as there was a slight problem in that we do not actually own this book. To make matters worse, our local library had their copies out on loan. But have no fear, Giftsfromthepirates saved the day by lending it to us. Thanks chaps.

So the BIG day arrived. I felt calmer than the year before but was looking forward to getting it out of the way. I cannot be the only one who sees the annual reading to a group of children as a nerve wracking event? 

On arrival I discovered that Mr H was also due to read. He took the warm up spot (joking only) and did a great job with a long read and a tough crowd. The Highway Rat is a firm favorite in our house but it is much too long for me to read in public. Mr H was far braver than me. Matt enjoyed hearing the story. In fact he liked telling me who read which books. He also found one in the library tother day and told me that we have that at nursery. He was keen for me to read Handa's Surprise knowing he knew the ending and I did not!

My reading was much less worrisome than last year as my expectations were clearer and the book does not have many words! The Midnight Library is the story of a little librarian and her three assistant owls who help woodland creatures. The illustrations are beautiful and bold. It is a lovely little tale about reading and using the library. What is not to love?

The story telling went well. Matt even joined in although I needed a spoiler alert for him when the little librarian thought it was raining and Matt told the group what was the real cause. I knew I would not receive rapturous applause at the end so my ego did not feel as ungratified as last time!

Matt looking happy and proud and excited. Really.
The real success came on the way home Matt asked for his own copy of the book from a bookshop (because they don't run out of date and have to be returned). I loved that he mentioned a bookshop and that the reading had renewed his love for that particular bookI saw the opportunity to broker a deal. For the previous four weeks I had been quite a lazy mama due to hospital recovery, pregnancy fatigue, and colds and we had been co-sleeping from the off. We agreed that if Matt could start in his own bed again we could buy the book. It took a while to get our own copy but it was a great incentive.

So that is it for my WBD readings for the next couple of years as the wee fella leaves nursery this Summer. I imagine next year WBD preparations will involve hours at the sewing machine creating elaborate costumes for deeply inspirational literary characters...
Or given that there will be another tiny humanoid demanding our time maybe Matt will just have to fit into his Gandalf costume. Or, if he does keeps growing at this rate, he may need to suffice with something from the supermarket. Oh my- how have I already put this pressure on myself? Maybe I will just offer to read at the school instead!.

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