Reading has always been a big part of my life.
Growing up, books were all over the house, packed into bookshelves, more often than not piled on top of each other as how could we decide what to throw away? Noone was very good at actually getting rid of books. Unlike clothes they seemed to hold more memories – where you were when you read them, how they made you feel, did the storyline resonate, influence your life a little?
So when our children were born we wanted to make books and reading important to them too.
When our daughter was tiny she and I would lie on the bed (because she was too young to sit) looking up at the ‘That’s not my…’ book series. I loved those because they were brightly coloured and had touch and feel sections that were perfect for her to explore. (Apologies to everyone who had kids after us, I know you probably got one of those from us as a present… I still love them now!) As she grew up we graduated to The Gruffalo and Guess How Much I Love You and (though I died a little every time we read these) the bastarding ‘made up by committee’ stories… the Rainbow Fairy books. But she loved them and without doubt they helped teach her to read.
So with Alex, I wanted him to enjoy them too. When he was born it was easy. We hauled out our daughter’s early books for him too. But as it became apparent how his life might turn and differ from hers, so it was harder to read with him – it dodn’t seem to connect with him. I wasn’t sure he would ever understand the words or could even see the pictures.
One friend bought us some brilliant black and white picture books which definitely caught his eye but the story books… well, it was difficult to tell if they held his attention. So as he got older… I read less with him. Played more. Let him lead bedtime with musical instruments and endless cuddles instead. I missed the books though.
About 5 weeks ago I decided to give them another go. Bedtime just felt wrong without a story.
I tried Meg and Mog – a battered old copy we’ve had for longer than Alex.
As I pulled the book down Alex grinned and shuffled over. Tapped the book. And I read to him. Meg and Mog is brilliant as you can do the character’s voices, and add in all the sound effects and this is the kind of storytelling I think Alex likes best – less character development, more fun noises and as a storyteller, as a parent, we’re happy to oblige. He grinned, clapped his hands then tried to eat my hair.
(Trying to eat my hair is one of Alex’s many ways of showing affection. It’s a lot less painful than it sounds. Honest. So long as you know it’s coming…)
So now we read almost every night. Which is lovely. He doesn’t always engage, sometimes he’s not in the mood, sometimes maybe I’ve picked the wrong story, but now I know he likes them, that they make him happy, it makes it much easier to try again.
Mummy – Noisy Bottoms is my favourite! What’s not to find funny about farts??
What do you mean ‘not again????’