Looking back, I don’t remember much from when I was Isaac’s age – he turned five last month – but I do have vivid memories of my father reading to me at bedtime and tolerantly pandering to my endless requests for “one more story”. I can distinctly remember a book of Disney character tales, which I made him read so often that I’m certain both he and I memorised each story word for word. I look back on those memories with extreme fondness, and I can only hope that my own brood of junior bookworms will remember bedtime with even half as much affection in the years to come.

Isaac Toby reading

Once upon a time …

So far the signs are good. With each of our three children reading books has been part of the night-time routine from an early age. Like me, studious Isaac has never required any encouragement, consuming books with voracity, quickly memorising them and always asking for one more. For a while Toby walked a narrow spectrum between indifference and grudging tolerance, but over the past year has become far more accepting and interactive as his verbal skills have accelerated. And Kara (all eight months of her), sociable soul that she is, seems to enjoy sitting in with the boys and just being part of the experience. (She’s also a fan of classic ‘flappy’ books such as Dear Zoo and Where’s Spot?)

Story-time is my favourite part of the day. I make a point of trying to get home in time – on average I probably miss it less than once a week. Sometimes it is the only time I get to spend with them on a work-day, so no matter how tough a time I’ve had at work, it’s immensely gratifying to get in, drop all my stuff at the door, head straight upstairs and get straight down to stories.

We’ve been through distinct stages with both boys, from the comparative simplicity of books such as the Maisy series via the obsessive Mr Men phase and on to gradually more complex stories. It never ceases to amaze me just how much they understand what they are reading. Recently I found a fantastic illustrated and abridged version of Alice in Wonderland for Isaac, which we must have finished in four days flat and then re-read repeatedly for weeks afterwards, and I have been amazed at the complexity of the questions – both factual and emotional – which he has come up with regarding the story. (We’ve since added Treasure Island from the same series – you can’t go wrong with pirates.)

I’m proud that the boys are so amenable to being read to – we often end up with one or both of them snuggled in our arms as we read – and the sight of a bedroom bookcase jammed with books of all ages and sizes is one which makes me distinctly happy as a parent. If our kids are genuinely interested in reading we must be doing something right, and one of the regular things they do with Heather is to take trips down to our local library to stock up with a fresh supply of stories.

In the case of Isaac, reading is starting to take on a whole new dimension as his ability to read himself increases and his confidence grows. He is constantly coming home from school with a new book to read, and he takes enormous pride in being able to sound out new words aloud and unaided. Already he’s starting to pick out words and phrases in his ‘big-boy books’ himself. It won’t be long until we’re able to start reading things like the Harry Potter books together. I can’t wait. There’s something joyous and very tangible about watching your kids’ reading develop, and I hope that one day they will pass a love of reading down to their children, just as my father did for me.

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5 thoughts on “Bookworms

  1. There’s a great book called Captain Finn & The Pirate Dinsoaurs… (my girls loved it, so surely a winner on every level for boys!!)

    Another series for as they get a bit older that I have loved reading is Mr Gum. Very, very silly, with countless opportunities for doing stupid character voices. And then there’s Roald Dahl, not just the books, but things like Revolting Rhymes.

  2. Besides the fact that I’ve read that reading to children helps them develop their own reading skills–they can’t wait to learn to do it themselves, I would think they learn the connection between a book and their imaginations. But just as importantly, so many children don’t want to go to bed (I never did, anyway), but if you give them something to look forward to (a story), it seems it would make bedtime easier on parents. Congratulations to you for making a special effort to be home in time for story telling.

    • It’s a big thing for me. I love observing how they wrap their brains around a story. They come up with such interesting questions – the sort that only a child would come up with. I’m so glad they enjoy reading.

  3. Pingback: Bookworm-itis | Dear Sam

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