C is for Children’s Books

Apparently, it’s Father’s Story Week (FSW).  I know this thanks to a very informative post over at Reluctant Housedad.  Go ahead and read it now, but be sure to come back here and not get lost among the recipes.

Read it?  Good.  Now I don’t have to explain much beyond FSW being a week dedicated to getting dads to read with their kids more.

I love reading.  As a kid if I was given the choice between some kind of sporting fixture on TV and a walk to the library, I’d take the walk any day.  Even if it was raining.  Even if it was 3 miles each way.  I’ll still take that walk (but now I’d load an audiobook onto my phone and listen to that on the way).

My dad, never a big reader.  Give him a newspaper and he’s happy.  We tried with biographies of people (mostly cricketers) and, in more recent years, cook books, but he’s not a big reader.  I reckon he’s read more bedtime stories to my kids than he ever did to me.  I also reckon that’s because the books available for kids to read are far better now than they were when I was a kid.

How many of these do you recognise…

  • A mouse took a stroll through the deep, dark wood…
  • The night Max wore his wolf suit…
  • In the deep blue sea, in the deep of the blue…
  • The witch had a cat…
  • Every night, at 6 o’clock, Sam Vimes…

All excellent books and just a selection of the ones in the kids’ collection, built up over the last 12 years.

One of us parents, as chosen by the kids, reads to them every night.  Like cooking dinner, it’s something we share pretty equally.  Like cooking dinner, it’s not a chore, not just part of the household routine but something we both enjoy doing.

Thing 2, my eldest son, has a wide and varied collection of books he’s got going.  From Mr Gum to the Roman Mysteries, from Captain Underpants to Stormbreaker.  He’s reading them himself, having more success with some than with others but the very fact that he’s lying in bed reading after I’ve read to hi, is just brilliant.  I can’t recommend Mr Gum highly enough.  It’s funny, surreal, strange and just perfect for a boy of his age.  David Walliams’ books also feature highly on his shelves – I believe it took him a whole afternoon to devour Billionaire Boy when he was given it.  Together, though, we’re reading Skellig as his bedtime story.  Short chapters, beautifully written and magical.  If you don’t have a copy of Skellig in the house, your house is missing something.

Thing 1 has her Kindle and with it a veritable library of books to read – and listen to.  I hadn’t realised that the Kindle will read books out to you, albeit in an artificial and somewhat American voice.  Not great, so I don’t think audiobooks are going to go out of fashion any time soon.

On long journeys, especially in the car, I’ll read to them – or to my wife.  Harry Potter was our book of choice for the last holiday.

Random thoughts:

  • Kids copy you.  If they see you reading, and enjoying reading, then they’ll stick with it.
  • Read a bit of the book with them, dip in and out.  Read a chapter at bedtime but encourage them to keep going, get them to bring you up to speed the next time you read it with them.
  • Don’t give a kid who’s just getting confident at reading a copy of Lord of the Rings!
  • Do bring through Lord of the Rings and get them to read the first sentence.  Let them see their reading as the key that will unlock something truly amazing.
  • Change genres, styles, authors.  Mix things up.  Have a look at the “People who read x also read y” on Amazon.
  • Borrow from your library.  A lot.
  • Read.  Often.  And read aloud!  Nothing brings a book to life better than hearing it read.

Now.  If there’s one book you want your children to read, what is it?

2 responses to “C is for Children’s Books”

  1. Great post John. The one book I’d iike my children to read is The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, on account of the fact that my missus has read it and said it’s brilliant, but I don’t have the time to read it, so I figure if my kids read it they can tell me what it’s about. Lazy, moi?

    • Nah, just wait for the movie this Christmas 😉

      I’ve read the Hobbit many, many times. I can assure you it’s well worth it.

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