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Thursday, 5 May 2011

(Nearly) Summer Time and the Reading is Easy…..

Well I see I haven't done very well with my blogging....where did the last two months go? I wrote this piece a while back, for someone else and before I had my own wee given that it's probably not been read I've decided to upcycle it for this Spring season (which has been almost Summer like)... 

Perhaps it’s the longer, lighter days or perhaps it is the fact that I don’t have the heating on full blast and I don’t have to wear my kagool all the time – but there is something about Spring that makes life that little bit easier and I have a bit more energy for getting things done or more time for relaxing. Having embarked on a large clear out over the weekend (oldest daughter with hardly any ‘stuff’ finally gets own room whilst youngest and middle daughters with huge amount of ‘stuff’ get crammed into the same room) I have to decide which books to keep and which to pass on. I have spent a bit of time reflecting on which books we love, old and new, and what makes books timeless but relevant to young readers today.

I’m sure we all remember our childhood favourites, for me - Miffy, Topsy and Tim, Harry the Dirty Dog, My Naughty Little Sister, Milly Molly Mandy (or was it Mary Mungo and Midge – no that was cool TV!), Richard Scarry, Dr Zuess and Just William (for the boys!). I think 99.9% of the books I enjoyed as a child were based on traditional families with mums staying at home and dads coming in from work at the end of the day. With many the feel good factor was about everything turning out fine in the end, good morals and nice safe bedtime stories. The choice of books now is completely open, Dads feature more in books and families are portrayed in all sorts of set ups. Because the issues that kids are dealing with today are so varied, there doesn’t seem to be any taboo subjects any more. In fact, it seems that believable characters and themes are much more likely to interest kids now than happy ever after stories.

I find baby and toddler books the most bamboozling group to choose from – there are so many out there of wildly differing quality and often when said baby or toddler is in tow you don’t get a chance to look at them properly. This is where experienced relations and friends come in - I love receiving books from my older sister for the girls, she has tried and tested many. What remains important is that they have stimulating pictures and lovely sounding words that are fun and interesting to read and hear. Poetry is making a comeback, especially for young children with rhyming and gently repetitive phrases adding to the lullaby feel of bedtime or naptime books. Great present idea, try ‘I Spy the Sun in the Sky’ 

Books now have to compete with the endless excitement of TV, computer games and the internet. This is where fantastic graphics and great art can come into the fore, sometimes less text can mean more if the eye is drawn to stimulating surrounding artwork.

Adventure books and story collection folk tales are still popular for those who like being read to but can also read on their own. I find these great fun, you can often dip in and out of them as the stories are not too long and the story lines not difficult to pick up when you are tired and keeling over after a day with the kids or at work, or with the kids and at work! Some even have CD’s so someone else can do the reading for you….Magic! We like ‘The Barefoot Book of Princesses’

I wasn’t a big reader once I hit my teens (well except for Jackie Magazine of course – any reading is better than none, right?) Few books at school interested me and life was a little too hectic to really buckle down and concentrate on books, not helped by extremely dull teaching methods! I have hope for my kids though, the oldest at 11 seems to be zipping through books especially ‘real life’ stories and the new style of books that combine fiction and non-fiction which help with subjects such as art or history, have a look at The Genius of Leonardo’

Multicultural and Eco message books are popular now for all ages. This I love - it opens up so many more story lines and avenues to explore with ethnic characters and captivating tales from other cultures. For eco activities try ‘The Barefoot Book of Earth Tales’ 

 And for all grannies out there, our Granny loves ‘My Granny Went to Market’
She has wild hair!

So enough reflecting for one clear out – I still love my old favourites and I love lots of the new books that are keeping our 21st century kids entertained. Think I’ll just stick them in a box just now while I decide. Might leave the sorting out up to the kids, that should keep them busy! x

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