As it’s the holidays, I have taken the opportunity to keep a closer eye on my children’s reading habits. It’s been a very interesting experience. A bit like some kind of weird Attenborough documentary, where the cheeky chimps are being tracked.
I haven’t taken notes or anything (even I am not that odd), but I have noticed several things which I hadn’t had such awareness of before.
For example, our eldest* went through a stage where all she read was Jacqueline Wilson. Give her a story with a broken family unit at its centre and she was happy. I hadn’t realised that her reading tastes have evolved and she is now reading a wider range of books than ever before. There’s nothing wrong with Jacqueline Wilson, I think she’s great and anything that gets your kids reading is fine with me, but I am still pleased to see that at last her horizons have broadened. As a result, her vocabulary has also improved. Hurrah!
Middle froglet has always been an avid reader and can often be located in a very small corner, hunched over a book. Enid Blyton is still high on the list, alongside virtually anything from fantasy to historical novels. But something has also changed for her. She is now avidly collecting ‘vintage’ Enid Blyton. No charity shop is left unturned in the search for ‘just one more’. I feel that I have created a bit of a monster. Has my slightly disconcerting ‘Alice’ habit transferred itself to one of my children? It would seem that perhaps it has.
And lastly, our youngest. He still absolutely loves stories, however now he can be found sitting on the sofa, reading away to himself, rather than just being read to. He has been reading books aloud all year (for school), but this is different. He has fallen into the world of being the private reader; curled up with a good book and immersing himself in the story. I’d forgotten how amazing that feeling is, when you witness a child discovering a sense of becoming the reader for the first time.
The journey from being the audience to becoming the reader is a complex one, which differs greatly from child to child. We have always read a great deal to our children and so they have been surrounded by high quality texts from birth. I am certain that their relationship with books has a lot to to do with the fact they are constantly encircled by them and so reading is a very natural part of everyday life. We always have reading before bed. Nowadays the girls read to themselves, whereas boy wonder is read to, but the premise is the same. You can’t finish the day off properly without the routine of reading, even if it’s just a few pages.
Linked into the routine of reading is play. Play has been encouraged through each stage of our children’s lives, whether it be dressing up as a cat at Bethnal Green Museum
or pretending to slay a dragon through the power of a die,
or trying your best to beat Dad!
I honestly believe that playing games which stretch your imagination, coupled with being read to will result in a real love of books. Go on, have a go, you know you want to.
* Our eldest froglet does exist but would be mortified if I uploaded a photo of her!