I picked the girls up from nursery tonight and when I arrived R was nowhere to be seen (busy putting a princess dress on) whilst G was curled up on a beanbag reading a Charlie and Lola book, utterly oblivious to the chaos unfolding around her.
I immediately identified with G. I have always loved books and can think of nothing better than ploughing through a stack of brand-new paperbacks. As a child, I visited our local public library every week, always taking out the maximum number of books allowed on my ticket and working my way through the pile. I still devour books like a crazed Ms Pacman.
It probably sounds a bit bonkers but we’ve always read to R and G. I did try reading aloud to them when I was pregnant but I felt a bit silly reading to myself. Dh and I started reading to the girls as part of their bedtime routine when they were tiny. After their bedtime feed we would prop them up on cushions and read them picture books. We were aware that we were only really entertaining each other but it’s something that we’ve continued throughout the girls’ lives.
As R and G have got older their participation in bedtime stories has increased. We read them two stories every night and they get to choose one each. They are read to throughout the day as well and they now make up stories to read to each other: “Everybody SIT DOWN! Can you see Ruth? Ok. Can you see the pictures? ONCEUPONATIME there was a little rabbit called Miffy….PUT YOUR LISTENING EARS ON RUTH!” We’ve accumulated quite a stack of children’s books over the years and we take them to the library every fortnight to get more picture books. They know certain books by heart and have favourites that have to be read every night for a week or two, before they move on to the next one.
We had a playdate with some friends a few weeks ago and the girls spotted The Gruffalo among the books. R and G picked it up and started reciting the words, to the astonishment of the host. “Are they actually reading that?” she asked? I grinned and said the girls just had really good memories. If I didn’t like her quite as much I might have told a teeny tiny white lie…
There are certain books that we all love:
- The tiger who came to tea by Judith Kerr
- Room on the broom by Julia Donaldson (we love all of her books and own most of them)
- The Wibbly Pig books by Mick Inkpen
- The Kipper books by Mick Inkpen
- The pigeon books by Mo Willems (if the girls get invited to a birthday party they invariably take pigeon books as presents)
- The Miffy books by Dick Bruna
- What does Daddy do? By Rachel Bright
- The Maisy books by Lucy Cousins
- The Charlie and Lola books by Lauren Child
- The Hairy Mclairy books by Lynley Dodd
- The Knuffle Bunny books by Mo Willems
- Wild about books by Judy Sierra
I’ve already started collecting books ready for when the girls are actually able to read: Roald Dahl, Mallory Towers, St Clare’s, Dick King-Smith, Winnie the Pooh, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Tom’s Midnight Garden… I loved these and many, many more as a child and I hope that R and G love them as much as I did (I still remember my shock at finding out the protagonist in the Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler was actually a girl) and I’m sure that they’ll introduce me to authors that weren’t around when I was growing up. I was already an adult when Harry Potter and the Georgia Nicolson (Louise Rennison) series were published but I connected with them as I imagine I would have done as a child and young teenager.
R and G aren’t old enough to learn to read yet but they already seem to be developing a love of books and we’ll do everything we can to encourage that.