I was asked to speak to a group of parents about what inspires me to write. The talk was being organised to educate pre-school parents of 0-5y0s about the value of reading to young children. Unfortunately given distance and timing, it wasn’t possible to be at the meeting, but I shared a few written thoughts about the inspiration for my books for younger readers, This is the Mud! and Bully on the Bus – and I also pondered why I, as a Mum, valued reading.
Our eldest loved books from birth. Even as a baby he would settle in and melt against you, absorbing the experience, and the words. As a tot he would carefully flick through the pages of a book for hours – and not a crease to show for the experience. As he grew older he started questioning things that happened, adding his own insights and observations to the story, ever-so-serious and wise, always wanting more and more and more stories.
Over the Christmas holidays between Yr One and Yr Two, he realised that he could read pretty much anything he set his mind to – and from there he went on to consume any and everything containing print, including numerous sets of encyclopaedias.
Our youngest was a pocket rocket – he couldn’t sit still, often running in and out of the room during reading. He had a wriggle-jiggle-giggle fascination with anything and everything BUT the story – although as he grew, rhyming stories drew him like a magnet. Keeping him engaged was hard work (!) often times exasperating – but also snort-laugh funny. I remember the first time he heard a complete, word-for-word version of a story. A board book (short and snappy!) but a story, just the same. Celebration!
He took longer to gain confidence in his abilities. Home-reading was like a game of ping-pong, as we took turns reading pages (or paragraphs) of the book. Sometime I read more than he did. The focus was on nurturing his love of stories, and developing his skills and confidence … and actually, those times cuddled up with a book were pretty precious. He wasn’t as voracious a reader as our eldest – always energy to burn! – but he too grew to love reading …
Both of them are teenagers now – both avid readers, across a range of genres and topics. Both with a tendency to get their nose stuck in a book! It was worth every effort and enjoyment to bring them to this point of independence and appreciation.
A book doesn’t take up much space, doesn’t run out of batteries, and enables a cuddly, cosy, ‘settled’ time that will warm your memories long after your children are grown. It also broadens horizons, and takes you places you may never visit, otherwise. As my eldest once said,
You can go anywhere – with a book.
I just went hunting up that picture (above) because I knew I’d used it in a blog post a number of years ago. Six, as it turns out. But reading back through that original post, Literacy for a Lifetime, I can’t help but wonder why I wrote the above. Because it’s possible I said it all better in 2009 …