This week we celebrate Book Week in Austalia and I have invited some wonderful local bloggers to share their reflections on reading with children with us here at Childhood 101. Today it is my pleasure to welcome Ness of One Perfect Day.
The photo above shows my favourite time of the day. No matter how crazy the rest of the day has been, when we snuggle together in the evening for story time, everything else just melts away. I love to watch my son’s face when I’m reading him a story. His eyes dart excitedly over the pages, taking it all in. He listens too! It’s not always easy to make a 4 year tornado of energy sit still long enough to listen, but oh does he listen when a story is being read. He listens so well that he can recite entire stories word for word, and should I happen to make a mistake with even a single word then I will always be corrected!
Story time happens several times a day in our home. We will often take armfuls of books out into the garden, find a shady spot to sit and we’ll read for an hour or more. Sometimes I’ll read to my son at dinner time if he’s resisting his food. It calms him down and helps him to focus so then he’ll eat. Books are just part of our day, every day.
We also like to spread our books throughout the house. The lower two rows of our living room bookshelf are devoted to my son’s books and just recently we put up some bookshelves in his room as well. He was just a teensy bit excited when they went up (!!) and all of his favourites end up there. I love to watch how the collection on these shelves changes as he adds new volumes and takes others back to the living room. I’ve set up a little chair beneath these shelves as well so he has his own little reading nook.
A few weeks ago I bought a new chair for the living room and placed it next to our bookshelves. My son immediately declared the chair to be the “story chair”. I love that the first thing he thought of when looking at that comfy chair was snuggling up and reading books.
We have some wonderful classics in our collection – books from Margaret Wise-Brown, Mem Fox, Mick Inkpen, Oliver Jeffers and all the usual favourites. As much as I love to seek out these wonderful books for him to read, there’s nothing more wonderful than watching my son on our weekly trips to the library or a special visit to our local bookstore. He will immediately gravitate to the Thomas The Tank Engine or Mr Men books. He is obsessed with both of them! His latest library favourite has been a Lego City early reader which we’ve renewed three times now. We also have some movie tie-in books that we picked up at local thrift stores and the supermarket. These aren’t classics. They can be tedious to read. Yet none of that matters. What matters is that my son wants to read them. What matters is that he is enthusiastic about books.
When my son was just a baby I read Reading Magic by Mem Fox. There were two pieces of advice in her book that I will always remember. Firstly, that no matter what it is your children want to read, even if it is a poorly written, supermarket purchase, let them read it. It’s more important that they want to read and that they are actively engaged. Secondly, that if a child wants to read the same book night after night (after night) then let them and read it to them for the hundredth time with as much enthusiasm as you did the first. So we’ll keep reading our Thomas books, our Mr Men, Toy Story and Little Mermaid stories. It can’t be classics all of the time.
There is one book that I’ve had stored away for my son since before he was even born – The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I have such fond memories of having this read to me at bedtime and begging for “just one more page pleeeease!” This book is the reason I fell in love with reading. I read the first chapter to my son recently and he isn’t quite ready for a chapter book yet. I’ll try again in a few months. When I took my copy down from the shelves to photograph it for this post, I opened it up to a random page. This is where it fell open – the opening page of chapter ten entitled “A Few More Adventures” and the closing page of the previous chapter with an illustration of an aeroplane. This so perfectly captures what reading is all about for me and what I hope it will come to mean to my son. Reading can take us on all sorts of adventures and fly us to any place we let our imaginations conjure.
Do you have a favourite childhood reading memory? Is there a book from your childhood that you’ve enjoyed reading to your own children?
Be sure to visit Ness at One Perfect Day where she blogs about the playful adventures she shares with her four year old son. You’ll find ideas for art, craft, sensory and messy play, book reviews, ideas for cooking with kids and more!
- Kids Books 101: Longer Stories and Novels to Read Aloud with Preschoolers
- Literacy Learning through Creating Books of Their Own
- Organising Kids Spaces: Our Book Corner
- 9 Things to Notice When Reading With Kids