Growing up with a mother who worked in a library, I guess it was inevitable that I would turn into a little bookworm. I’d go to the library on a Saturday, take out the maximum five books on my children’s card, and work my way through them at the speed of light.
I went through the entire Enid Blyton collection, read every Sweet Valley High book on the shelf, and even braved the Goosebumps series. Do you remember how scary they were?! But earlier than that, I remember running out of books in my infant school library, waiting eagerly for Which Witch is Which to become available … and being disappointed by it when my turn eventually came around.
There are certain books that stand out in my mind, and I love the thought of sharing these with our two boys. This year’s World Book Day theme is all about sharing a love of reading, and this is definitely something we’re keen to do.
We’ve read to our two boys almost from day one, with Stew using our Roald Dahl collection as bedtime stories when they were tiny. They might have been too young to understand any of it, but it was quality time for them, and he had a good laugh at George’s Marvellous Medicine.
Bedtime isn’t bedtime without a story, and we read at least one book a night with both boys. For our littlest, it’s the same routine each night of brushing his teeth then settling down (squashed in his tiny bed) for the Disney Cars story, followed by The Gruffalo’s Child.
No matter how tired he is, and even if he’s drifting off by the end, he’ll always join in with the last line of “and the Gruffalo snored, and snored, and snored”.
Our eldest son, aged four, alternates between fiction and non-fiction, depending on his mood. For months he chose the atlas at bedtime, more often than not the Australia page, followed by a story to calm down before going to sleep.
For his birthday last year, we bought The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak, and he thinks it’s hilarious. Crying laughing levels of hilarity. Any book with the phrase boo boo butt is going to be a winner with a four-year-old boy!
So for Christmas I decided to buy another book as a gift – I love giving books as presents as they’re something you can keep forever – and went with one of my childhood favourites – The Jolly Postman. I remember absolutely loving that each page had an envelope with an actual letter in, and thought our biggest boy would enjoy it too.
He didn’t choose it for a few nights after Christmas, and I thought maybe he didn’t like the look of it. I was a bit disappointed, but it turns out he was waiting for a night when we had time to read it properly.
We snuggled up in his bed, and started reading. He almost burst with excitement when we got to the first envelope and realised he could take the letter out. His favourites are the birthday party invitation and the birthday card.
One night he even took himself off to bed while I got his brother to sleep, and started reading it on his own. I could hear him reading the poem in the birthday card out loud, and it was lovely. I was interested to learn this week that 65% of 5-7 year olds read to themselves when they are read to every day or nearly every day.
There’s so much I love about reading to our boys – sharing a story, teaching them new words, helping them to learn about the world, and knowing that we are helping them to develop skills that will benefit them throughout school. And for them, it’s fun, reassuring and one-on-one time at the end of the day.
I’ve carried on the tradition of using the library, and we always have a stash of borrowed books around the house. I’m hoping to pass on more of my favourites as they grow up … bring on the Harry Potter years!
Reading to your child every day raises a reader for life, and I’m so pleased we’ve settled into a routine where we sit down with a book together each night before bed.
For some people, World Book Day is just about a costume for school, but there’s so much more to it. To find out more about the benefits of reading with your child, visit http://readingwales.org.uk/en/ or www.worldbookday.com
Right, I’m off to make sure our eldest doesn’t choose to take the Star Wars encyclopaedia to school as his favourite book on World Book Day…