Tea to clear away, washing to sort, emails to answer, a glass of wine urgently calling…
reading stories to our little ones at bedtime is such an iconic image of perfect parenting, and yet there are so many demands on our busy, weary, running-out-steam evenings.
The expectant pile of books looks so huge! And, when there’s also – as shown above – a toy mouse requesting his book of cheeses read aloud too, it’s quite an undertaking.
Read it Daddy‘s rallying call in his campaign to get mums and dads reading aloud to their children has really struck a chord with lots of us. I particularly recommend a read of the posts on Library Mice, Little Wooden Horse and Child Led Chaos and their take on the subject.
For what it’s worth, this is what worked for me…
For tiny tots, reading books after breakfast when everyone is fresh, not just at night.
Giving it lots of colour – funny voices, jumping up and making a fool of myself – it IS a performance of sorts, after all.
Books aren’t ‘good for you’ like vegetables – they’re wild creatures you’re letting loose.
Not worrying at all about sticking to age-appropriate books: mysterious ‘grown-up’ words wash over you like music when you’re small, and there’s nothing more comforting than an old favourite picture book when you’re big. (you might have noticed – if you ask a writer what age group their book is for, they come out in hives, mumble a non-committal answer and try to leave the room)
For school age children it’s getting really vital: listening to stories and drifting away from the institutionalised noisy confines of the day onto the wilder shores of the imagination (homework can jolly well wait).
Allow THEM to choose when it stops. Sharing adult books with young people and teenagers is an adventure and a privilege. One of the last books I read aloud – I kid you not – was War and Peace: I’d never read it before, I loved every minute and now it’s hard-wired into my brain.
And if you hang onto only one thing:
of course they will love the books, they love the person reading them!