Audio books, the current saviour of bedtime. Three tired kids and one worn out Mum (whose husband is hiding somewhere at work) undeniably equals one tough part of the day.

We are currently half way through a CD of traditional bedtime stories, and as I’m trying to get the 8 week old to settle, my 5 year old curls up in bed and has a listen. It takes any tension out of the situation (i.e. that 3 kids needing you in 3 separate places all at the same time thing.) She thinks she is getting a real treat so it gives me an extra few guilt-free minutes with the (extra) little one and all and all makes that crazy hour a little easier.  I have to say I have always been a bit sniffy about audio books, as I just thought they were a way of avoiding reading books, but having done a bit of research I have completely changed my mind.

Apparently, according to much cleverer people than me, audio books give the child more freedom to use their imagination as they are not directed by pictures on the page.  It also helps practice their listening skills, which is a great one if your child is a bit wriggly when you try and read.  If they move and miss something then they will soon learn that they will lose the thread of the story.  Audio books also allow your child to enjoy books that are a bit harder than the ones they might try and read.  Children who are put off books with lots of pages, or ones with lots of words have a different way in to a story they may otherwise not manage.  And there are some really good ones out there at the minute.   All of David Walliams books are on CD, Roald Dahl (read by himself!) Paddington and so on,  all the classics that otherwise maybe too much to handle.

I’m not entirely sure what will happen when we get to the end of the CD, or how long I will get away with this as in my heart of heart I know it is only a short term solution. I am also keen that it doesn’t happen every night, as I do obviously want to still read to my daughter, especially as she has just started to want to read out loud too. However, I’m not going to beat myself up about it when things are so busy. She is certainly enjoying them, so I’m not going to stop something that works. There’s also the added bonus of using the same stories when out and about in the car, or when you simply need some down time.  I suppose that this is the key to this whole blog, just do what works best for you and your family and make sure it is always enjoyable.

So, finally got round to registering the little one’s birth, and super delighted to be handed the Book Trust book pack.  I honestly thought this was something that had been squeezed thanks to the recession/austerity/govn cuts etc etc but no! Two free books and a leaflet giving advice on how to share books with your little one.  There’s nothing ground-breaking within the advice as such, it’s mainly stuff that will come naturally to you I’m sure, but the bit I really like is the part that says ‘you don’t have to be a good reader yourself to read to your child.’  This is because it is the soothing sound of your voice that is more important than the actual words.  You could read them the football results and it wouldn’t matter.  What your child will really enjoy is the act of sitting on your knee, cuddling up on the sofa, whatever you fancy that makes the experience fun for both of you.  Therefore, even if you feel a bit nervous about it, do give it a go.  The younger the better too.  Starting really young (and I’m talking weeks old) might feel a bit ridiculous at first, as clearly they won’t understand a word, but if you can make the act of reading enjoyable, then I promise it will stay with your child for the rest of their life.  Just a quick look together when they are in that tiny window of calm, or part of your routine before naps.  If, however, you’ve got older ones of which books don’t seem to hold their attention, then choose books with interesting, bright pictures and spend your time looking at them instead.  You don’t even need to read the story, you could play a spotting game, or you could ask your child to show you the colours they know, names of objects they can point out etc, anything that boosts your child’s confidence around books.  This is all about making your child feel good about themselves and their skills. Asking your child to choose the book will also boost their enthusiasm.  They’ll soon let you know their favourite one – of which you will get to know very well!

Pick your moment though.  Obviously if they are totally wriggly and getting annoyed then don’t force them into trying to read, do it at a more peaceful time, perhaps before their nap-time or when they are still sleepy in the mornings (apparently that actually happens and not all kids fly our of bed like it’s on fire!)  I am also a huge advocate or the bath, book, bed routine at night.  You can see earlier posts on that one, as I think a book before bed is a given.  The reading I’m talking about here is when they are fully alert and keen to learn.

I truly believe if you show a love of books and are enthusiastic to share them with your child, they will also fall in love with them. Keep it up, and thanks again to Booktrust.  If you want more tips then do check out the Booktrust website  www.booktrust.org.uk.  You can of course also raid earlier posts on this blog for more ideas!

Happy reading x

 

 

 

So after a brief pause, to have a baby (my third…I know!) celebrate my birthday as well as Christmas and New Year, I’m back on it.  It’s been a busy few months, but we still managed to squeeze in a few book-related highs.  For a start, I was totally bowled over during a visit to the big man when my girls were asked what they wanted as presents.  And do you know what they both said?  ‘Books!’ I have to admit there was a tablet in the mix for my youngest one, so clearly I’m not totally anti-tec but books still played a big part in the (huge) hoard under the tree. For both girls, (from Father Christmas…)there was a big box of books alongside their stocking.  Particularly for the older one, they were the next in the series of ones we have read together, or classics that she is now old enough to enjoy.  It was really good fun to put together, I imagine, and I think she appreciated it.  There’s a few that I’m really excited about her starting, such as Harry Potter. What an adventure lies ahead!!

Back to babies, and I have been super surprised about the importance of books to little babies, and we’re talking really young ones.  Mine is now 5 weeks old, so I had a quick look at one of those ‘What to expect from your 5 week old’ websites, and I’m totally delighted that books are mentioned, described as a really important part in their development.  I know, I was surprised too, but the thinking behind it is that as their eyesight starts to improve they enjoy starting to recognise different shades, such as black and white.  So, books with black and white pages are a winner.  This not only establishes an early connection of fun with Mum, but must make your baby see books as a good, positive thing.  I can’t image mine will get it straight away, but I can only see this is as a good idea, setting the foundations for a good relationship with books in the future, and I know how hard that can be for a boy!

There are loads on the market, all specially designed for those first few months.  I have a few from the Amazing Baby range which have been enjoyed by all my kids. Remember, a trip to your local independent bookshop is the best place to get tailor- made advice, as well as a hot cup of tea and cake.  Just what is called for when you have a little baby in tow!

Not that I needed an excuse but definitely going to be waving a few pages in front of my little one from now on.  Not too much, about 10 minutes of play time before he gets too tired is the advice, but can’t wait for him to get up to give it a try.  Let’s hope he enjoys them as the rest of us, I’ll keep you posted!

 

Just thought I’d highlight some lovely charity book-related projects you could get involved with this Christmas.  I know there is already lots to get organised, but each one only takes 5 minutes or so to sort, and could make a huge difference to someone’s life.  Just imagine you could be responsible for kick-starting a love of reading for somebody who never thought it was for them.  Total joy!

1 – BookTrust Christmas Campaign

How lovely is this!  For just £10 you could gift a book to a child living in care.  The chosen book would come as a surprise, could be the first book they have ever owned, and will be enjoyed for years to come.  You can’t ask for more than that!  Love the idea and have already donated on behalf of some of my relatives.  This is a great way to think about other people, at a time when it can get all a bit much.  Why not get your children to help you donate?  Find more details here:

https://www.booktrust.org.uk/support-us/give-a-book-gift-and-light-up-a-child-in-cares-christmas/ 

2 – My local independent bookshop is involved in a fantastic campaign this year.  Why don’t you find out if yours is up to anything similar?  Basically, Simply Books will help you choose a book for a child, which will then be sent to either of two charities – Salford Women’s Aid and the Wood Street Mission.  Find more details here:

http://us5.campaign-archive.com/?u=dd9c40e292f7aebec2cecc0eb&id=834a924d75

3 – Book Aid International

This isn’t a Christmas one, this is a much needed all year round one but what a fabulous gift for someone who doesn’t really need anything this year.  From £6 to £25 a month you could make a huge difference to someone who’s life is simply not as lucky as ours.  Find out more and how to donate below:

Donate

If you have any other ideas then do let me know – not long now until the big day!

 

 

 

My daughter has reached that gorgeous age where she believes she has the power to read everything and anything.  She shouts out letters she recognises on street signs, in newspapers, in books that I’m reading.   Over and over again it makes me wonder what it must be like to experience the big wide world opening up, finding out you can finally understand things that you never thought you could. Seeing her pick up a book and have the confidence to give it a go is one of the loveliest things to witness.

On the flip side, this also makes me sad for the children that this doesn’t happen to.  I’ve been so fortunate to have 2 children that enjoy reading, hugely helped by a school that teaches the basics so well.  Books are celebrated at home and at school so they don’t really have much excuse!  But at the same time there is a big proportion of children who just don’t get the same opportunities.  I had a brief insight into how big a problem it is when I volunteered for the reading charity Beanstalk.  https://www.beanstalkcharity.org.uk/  I just thought I’d mention it in case anyone was looking for some volunteer work, that is easily accessible.  Basically, after a little bit of training, you will be given the opportunity to go into a local school and read, twice a week, with 3 children that need that little bit of extra help.  Alongside the reading, you can play games, spend a bit of time chatting, do puzzles, word-searches, anything to give them a bit of time out of the classroom and a real confidence boost.

When I was involved, I worked with 3 year 5 boys, which was daunting at first as my previous experiences were only with the really little ones.  However, it ended up being a really gratifying time (hopefully for all of us and not just me!)  The boys really got stuck in, and I just about managed to change their opinion that ‘books are boring.’  I’m not saying they became avid readers, but I definitely helped remove the fear factor, and together we found some books they enjoyed.  Most importantly, or I believe anyway, the experience gave the boys some chill out time, in what is now a pretty fast and frenetic life. You can’t get past the fact that children see books as old-school when compared to computers. ipads, PS4’s and so on.  But that isn’t a bad thing.  Books slow children down, make them look at subjects in more detail, and most importantly can be shared with an adult who really cares.  It really is the most rewarding experience when a child asks to read the book you found for them the week before because they were enjoying it so much.  Now that’s not something they would admit to in class, in front of their friends, maybe even their family, but because of the time you’ve invested in them they trust you not to make them look silly.  It’s a real bond, made over books, that will stay with them forever.  Priceless.

So, if you have a few hours a week free, then I would seriously recommend having a look at Beanstalk.  You get lots of support and they will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.  If you haven’t got any spare time, as your hands are full with your own children then do what you can to carve out those precious few minutes to sit down and read with them.  10 minutes a day has been repeatedly proven to work wonders for not only their reading skills, but also concentration, writing, communication and an overall feeling of security.  I know myself how difficult it can be, but I believe the long-term gain has to outweigh any short-term disruption.  And it won’t be forever!  Once they are confident readers you too will be able to get back to that novel that you have always been meaning to finish.