I read an article today in the Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/childrens-books-site/2012/apr/10/book-doctor-baby-books?CMP=twt_gu which gave advice on how to engage your young child with a book. For me, it seems an odd concept. I have read to our three since they were in the womb, so the idea of not knowing how to engage a young child in the wonders of a book is an alien concept. It is true though that many parents don’t know where or when to begin. Perhaps their own experiences have been limited or they are simply overwhelmed by the amount of ‘advice’ bandied about. For me, it’s not just about the physicality of the book, although that is key, it’s the art of being able to craft a story which captures your child’s imagination. It can be about anything. Seriously, I remember making up stories about cooking the tea, when our eldest was a toddler and our middle one was a screaming (but very beautiful) babe in arms.
Once you have them hooked on the pattern of words, they will want to explore for themselves. Cloth books, board books which become lovingly chewed to pieces, you name it, your child will love it, if you read it with feeling. Try it, honestly, it works! I have read the complete ‘Alice in Wonderland’ to a newborn and repeated the tales of my grandparents to a class of challenging year 6 pupils. The stories jump into life without the aid of a screen or app (although technologies most certainly do have a place within our children’s experiences). What engages them is you. You are the teller of these wondrous tales and children want to be mesmerised by other worlds.
At Chicken and Frog we aim to do just that, create other worlds for children and parents/grandparents…to immerse themselves in. We already have a programme called ‘Discover a Book’ booked in with the wonderful @ClaireMackaness from Beautiful Things http://www.clairemackaness.com/, which allows parents and children to find out about a book and hone some crafty skills which can be used together at home.