I once knew a bright, but troubled guy who said “I love reading because I get to have a conversation with everyone who ever lived and expressed themselves through their writing.”
This article expresses to me the importance of literature in learning to know and live yourself and then the wider world. Which reminds me, I must return to reading in school, next term. Because, this.
Our Fridays have turned into a Chinese takeaway night. (Sorry for the impact this has on our town’s obesity stats.)
Monkey face loves to go in with her dad and help with the order. She’s usually got a book with her. The friendly lady behind the counter has a child who’s read some of the same books and they’ve started a little friendship.
Last week, as she was leaving the shop, MF proclaimed: “so it IS a real friendship. And all because of Wimpy Kid! Thank you, Jeff Kinney.”
A picture speaks a thousand words. Today I walked into the sitting room, suspicious as to why it was so quiet in there… Found this:
I can’t bear to even look how long it’s been since my last post. Due to overcommitment and sleeplessness, I no longer even aim to blog.
However, when I read what follows, I wanted to share this lovely message from children’s author and illustrator, Anna Dewdney, who sadly died on Saturday. I still, somehow, manage to get into my daughter’s school to read with some of the children there and I think Anna’s words sum up why I believe it’s so important, despite my clear capacity bottleneck:
“When we read with a child, we are doing so much more than teaching him to read or instilling in her a love of language,” she wrote. “We are doing something that I believe is just as powerful, and it is something that we are losing as a culture: by reading with a child, we are teaching that child to be human. When we open a book, and share our voice and imagination with a child, that child learns to see the world through someone else’s eyes.”
The last autumn days of my 30s have been burnished-apple bright, with Swedish-blue skies and enormous, pillowy clouds. Yesterday, my mum told me that “this is exactly what the weather was like when you were born” which has a nice circularity to it. This is autumn at its fuggy, golden, toasty best.
My husband had also booked us into a lovely hotel near to where I was born and close to where we married. In fact, we almost spent our wedding night here. Again, he chose it not only because of its reputation, but because I was born here 40 years ago.
One of the things I have considered in the space I’ve had to let my mind wander since being here, is that during my 30s, during anyone’s 30s, the residue of one’s professional life can silt up around the things you love doing and who you are. I’ve found becoming a parent obliterated the person I had made myself into. Now I can feel the first shoots of who I always was emerging. Reading with Monkey-face and for myself has given me back to myself. It’s that circularity thing again.
I didn’t put my daughter to bed tonight. I’m blogging from my surprise spa break having left monkey-face with my mum.
But before we left, we did read together and chalk some letters. I read our new book “Good Little Wolf” by Nadia Shireen which prompted genuine belly laughs. From me. She didn’t get the ending. But it did prompt a request for tea and cake. “peatot mummy”.
I don’t think it’s a great shock to anyone to announce I’m aware I have impossible expectations of myself and that this of course impedes performance.
I’m ashamed to admit it’s only dawned on me recently that the most difficult part of parenting (or one of them) is to treat your child with the same care and consideration as you would anyone who isn’t you. That is to say, to not treat them as you treat yourself.
Impossible expectations undoubtedly hampered my early attempts at reading with my child and possibly doing anything with my child. Over- disciplining, caring too much that other people would think I’m not in control of my child (haha, who is?), projecting impossible age-inappropriate expectations onto her…
Thanks to Jane Nelson’s books on discipline, I’ve been slowly getting it, but yesterday it clicked.
Her progress and joy in reading is testament to the growing we are doing together.
Grateful every day.
For my mum, a fantastic, loving person whose grandparenting constantly shows me how to parent
As coincidence has it, I decided to raise my game in casting around for other books suitable for 2 year olds, part of the process being to follow book-related stuff on Twitter.
I happened to do this during Children’s Book Week, my ignorance of which is obvious by my lack of reference to it during this blog this week.
Happen upon it I nonetheless eventually did and I also discovered other bloggers talking about this same subject matter. I’m now following them and in awe of their beautiful-looking spaces. So much so, my own feels like a room with one chair in it. If a blog falls over in cyberspace and no-one hears it, does it exist?
I’m reminded after 10000 hours of doing something, one becomes an expert. I’m not known for my patience or sticking at things for later reward, so it’s taking some patience to remind myself I have been at this for about forty hours. 9,960 to go then.
So, I continue to learn a little bit every week and attempt to find my own path and style. I’m not doing this for fame or riches, god help me no, but to inspire my child to read, develop my own creativity and to become more mindful of monkey-face’s development. I can see that that’s already happening.
And, four readers, I’m loving it.
The blog may have gone a little silent – which I forewarned – but in the frenetic rush to meet deadlines and keep a little person fed and watered, I’ve allowed the writing about reading to slip if not the actual reading itself, for the sake of sanity and one less thing to obsess about doing badly.
In the small hours we have available together, we have been chalking letters, reading Spot goes to school on the iPad and generally doing literacy activities where we can. Not every day gives us the opportunity to read a story, but the important thing is that someone is: her Childminder, her grandmother, her dad.
Last night I scuttled in at some ungodly hour to disrupt her intermittent listening to Crazy Hair. She had been far more interested in the flotsam and jetsam of our peripatetic lives, but daddy gamely struggled on. Eventually, Crazy Hair was discarded for the game of let’s find the most dangerous or valuable item to be left lying around and reward mummy’s every attempt to wrest it from her with painful, purple love-bites.
Normal service is resumed.