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  • Summer reading lists

    Will you be putting together a summer reading list?

    It is certainly amongst my to-do items, and I shall also be casting my attention to my son’s summer reading soon.

    Reading throughout the impending school holidays can be of enormous benefit.  As well as keeping children in the good habit of reading, the extra freedom of reading exactly what they want to, can turn a possible chore into a positive joy.

    That’s the hope of the Reading Agency, who will soon be releasing their Summer Reading Challenge.

    Libraries from all over the country will be involved in rewarding children for their reading throughout the summer.

    The challenge for children aged between 4 and 11 is simple, read six or more books of their choice.

    They will be incentivised by receiving collectable items and rewards along the way, with certificates and medals for all that complete the challenge successfully.

    This year’s theme is space, and has been called Space Hop.  Children will be boldly going where no one has been before, as they continue to nurture a life-long love of reading books through an exciting galaxy.

    As well as having a tangible Space Hop pack, there is also an interactive website linking children with top authors and illustrators, and giving them the chance to share and discuss their favourite books and reading tips.

    My local library will be registering children from the 10th of July, and you should get in touch with your local library to see how and when you can get involved.

    And how should we put together a quality reading list?

    Well of course children can look for books they have yet to read from their favourite authors, but if you’re at a library already, it is a good idea to make use of the experts at your disposal.

    Terry wrote an excellent post on the Booklights blog about how to make a great summer reading list.  As well as exploiting initiatives such as Space Hop, libraries are an excellent resource for putting together a book list.

    Based on age, author, or even subject.  If you have a passion for bugs, or princesses, then it is the experts at the library, who will be able to point you in the direction of books about, or containing, your favoured subject.

    So will your children be taking up the challenge? Or were yours some of the 750,000 to benefit from this initiative last year?

  • Using the World Cup as a learning aid

    Everywhere you look there is news from the World Cup.  It is unavoidable whether you love or loathe football.

    I am somewhere in the middle of those two groups.  I enjoy watching football, and usually a major football tournament would be of great interest to me.  But my interest this time has only really been ignited by ways in which my son is engaging with it.

    The stubbornness within my son’s personality means that it is a much more joyous thing to let him choose a topic to aid his learning and development, than force him down a road he is reluctant to travel.

    It seems this is true of a lot of children, especially boys, as they start their formal learning lives.

    I did not expect it to, but at the moment the World Cup really has my son’s attention, and I have been looking at ways of making the most of that.  I haven’t had to look too hard, as my son has found ways of doing that himself.

    He was given a Panini World Cup sticker book.  And he has enjoyed looking for the numbers that correspond with the stickers he has got, and has been slowly populating his new treasured sticker book.  Regardless of who the player actually is the number is all important to him, which is great.

    Older children at his school have been collecting Match Attax cards, some of which have been kind enough to give their duplicates to my son.  He thinks the few he has got are great, and has been using them to learn how to spell names of countries, and also as guides for when he is drawing footballers from the respective teams.

    His drawings have been brilliant, using different colours for the different teams.  Replicating national badges and flags, and coming up with scorelines for most of the scenes we have both drawn.  England always seem to score 10, he still has a lot to learn obviously.

    During England’s first appearance in the tournament he and a couple of his friends made flags and footballers on sticks.  They had great fun, barely paying any real attention to the game – not that they missed anything, unlike England’s goalkeeper.

    Then last night, with a little help from CITV’s Share-a-Story contest, using their template, he started his own World Cup cartoon.  Which included drawing and writing in speech bubbles.

    Yesterday really was a ‘football’ day as he wanted to conclude it with a football story at bedtime.  I had to think quickly (no mean feat) if we had one, then I remembered that Roger Hargreaves’ Mr Cool, from the Mr Men series, includes a footballer and he was more than happy with my choice.

    I am delighted that my son is engaging with the World Cup in such positive ways, and not just kicking a ball about, which he is enjoying doing too.

    Has it been the same in your house, and do you have any more ideas for me?

  • Who is dictating the bedtime reading?

    Virtually every night we are at home, I stand with my son at his Tidy Books bookcase, and we set about choosing what books we are going to read.

    Sometimes this is a very quick process, like on days when we have already discussed what to read at bedtime, or if we have played along a theme featured heavily in one of his books during the day.  Like if we’ve played with dinosaurs, popular bedtime stories then become things like Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs or Dinosaurs Love Underpants.

    At other times, the process can seem to take a disproportionate amount of time, as my son refuses to choose, and also refuses any of my suggestions.

    We commonly read two books each bedtime, adding more for good behaviour and if time allows.  I do reduce reading down to one if there is reason to limit his reading, like a late bedtime, or poor behaviour.  Luckily instances like that are relatively rare, as to this point, I have chosen to run to a reasonable rigid schedule and the boy generally knows where my lines of good behaviour are.

    I have also been mindful, increasingly so, to let my child choose what we are going to read.  I really want him to enjoy reading, and I think a big part of that is being allowed complete freedom when it comes to choosing literature.

    My focus on this was heightened recently, when I read a report, that pointed out that well meaning parents can actually have a negative effect on a child’s reading.

    However, my boy, such is his giving nature, likes to allow me to ‘choose’ a book to read.

    So, when we have two books, the principle is that he chooses one, and I choose the other.

    Great idea, except my son reserves the right of veto.  Which means my choice is actually limited to going through the list of his books, until I land on one he wants to be read to, or have a go at himself.

    This irritates me a little, and at times I have said to him; “Why do you even ask me to choose?” to which I get a beautiful and all knowing grin.

    We both really know he is in control of choosing what he reads, and long may it continue.

    But, who chooses the books in your house?  And do your kids do the same thing to you?

  • Are bedtime stories really in decline?

    A recent tabloid headline got our attention.

    Half of all parents too busy to read a bedtime story to children’ Read the article headline, published earlier this month in the Daily Mail.

    The story was based on research compiled on behalf of Silentnight, themselves hoping to promote their own ‘Book at Bedtime’ competition.  1,000 parents were quizzed about reading to their children at bedtime, and although 97 per cent agreed that reading to children before bedtime was of developmental benefit, only 53 per cent confirmed that they did, in fact, read to their children at this time

    Most parents that said they did not read to their children, said that they did not do so, based on being too embarrassed to read out aloud to them.  The study also revealed that half of the children under 12 watch DVDs in bed

    This, in isolation, is a worrying figure, but I am unsure that 1,000 parents being questioned is enough to gain a real idea of how many children are read to at bedtime across the county, and is possibly sensationalist to offer a headline saying that half of ALL children are not read to before lights out.

    I certainly hope that the reality is much brighter to that recorded by this research, but have looked back to a blog post I wrote in October, based on the annual study compiled for Booktrust, which found DVDs increasingly popular amongst older children at bedtime.

    For me, as a parent, bedtime reading has always felt right, but I can sympathise with parents that feel uneasy with reading out aloud, I’ve been self conscious in the presence of visitors, and on the odd occasion I have had to read in public, but really, what is the bigger issue?

    Reading to a child is obviously of immense benefit, and the joy in watching a child revel in being read to, and then reading themselves, is something every parent should enjoy.  It really should be, and is, a parent’s privilege.

    Inspiration is all around us, not only in the faces, ears and mouths of our children, but if you need further encouragement, look no further than Jim Brozina, and his daughter Kristen from Millville, New Jersey.

    Mr Brozina and his youngest daughter, enjoyed a nine year ‘streak’ of reading together each night.

    Inspired by the failure to continue reading to his eldest daughter once she had learnt to read herself, the elementary school librarian decided to not make the same mistake again.  Initially setting himself and his youngest daughter the target of reading for 100 nights on-the-trot, which then became 1,000, and so on.

    A truly wonderful story, and hopefully one virtually replicated all over the World, between parent and child.

    I am unsure where we are in our streak, but it is incredible rare of us to have a night without reading.

    But how about you? Can you beat Mr Brozina?

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