Since both of my girls were babies, I have made time to read every day with them. As a result, they both love books. I often find them curled up with Gary on the sofa or in the reading corner in Lottie’s room, engrossed in a story. I also regularly find Frankie sitting quietly on her own, looking through books. They both have favourite books, but also love discovering new stories.
I think Gary thought I was a bit mad when I first starting reading to Lottie as a baby. But he quickly realised how much she enjoys it. And I think he now reads with the girls even more than I do. There are so many benefits to reading together as a family. And that’s why we are delighted to be involved with this year’s Time to Read campaign with BookTrust.
As well as the proven advantages, I love the closeness of reading together, Frankie always climbs onto my lap to read, and Lottie snuggles in close, and it’s lovely to have that quiet time together. I also think it really helps the girls to concentrate on something for a bit longer, helping their focus and attention. And really importantly for Lottie especially, it expands their vocabulary as it opens up new subjects to talk about. The very first Makaton sign that Lottie learnt was book. One of my proudest moments.
The benefits of reading with children
- Research has shown that children who make time to read for pleasure, do better at school. This extends to seemingly unrelated subjects, such as maths.
- Reading together is a great way for families to bond and have fun together. Neither of our girls are talking yet, but in years to come, story time will provide a great opportunity for us to chat about their day.
- Illustrated books can help parents to address challenging issues with their children. This year’s book, Little Monkey, is a really good example of this, as I will explain below.
- During her speech and language therapy, Lottie often looks at illustrated books with her therapist. Reading is a great way for her to expand her vocabulary, and she will often try to say the names of things she sees in the pictures.
- Illustrations bring books to life, expand stories beyond the words on the page and help make children creative, independent thinkers by pushing them to interpret the story themselves. While we read to the girls, we always talk about the pictures, and what’s going on in them, to make the story more fun and interesting, and they will often point things out that take their attention.
Our family doesn’t have any set times for reading together. The girls will quite often ask for stories after they’ve had their milk in the morning. I think it’s a nice quiet way to wake up before the chaos of the day begins. And we usually have stories at bedtime, as it’s part of the girls’ bedtime routine and helps them to know it’s time to wind down ready for sleep. Whatever time of day it is, I think it’s a really lovely thing to do together and is a great way to bond and spend time together.
About the Time to Read campaign
This September BookTrust is calling on families across the UK to recognise the importance of illustrated books and to have fun sharing these stories together as a way to inspire young readers.
I love the idea behind the campaign, which is all about getting families having fun sharing stories together, even once their children start to read on their own. Every year, BookTrust also gives away its nominated book to every reception age child. That’s 70,000 books every single year. It’s a lovely way to get all children involved in sharing stories, even if they don’t have many books at home. The books come with ideas and tips for parents too, to help those families who perhaps don’t have much focus on reading, to reap the benefits of sharing stories with their little ones.
The campaign website also gives lots more information and helpful tips, ideas and inspiration for parents, carers and families. Find out more at www.booktrust.org.uk .
This year’s Time to Read book
We were delighted to discover that this year’s book is Little Monkey, by Marta Altes. Lottie is obsessed with monkeys, so she was super excited when I showed her the book.
And in fact, the meaning behind the story, has a real resonance for me with Lottie’s life. It’s all about a monkey who is little, and as a result, often struggles to see, reach, or be part of the fun with the bigger monkeys.
But instead of getting downhearted, and giving up, the brave little monkey climbs to the top of the tallest tree in the jungle, so that she can see everything. ‘”I may be small, but I’m very brave,” she said.’
A tale of overcoming adversity. Of being brave, not giving up, and finding the positives in life. Just like my little monkey does every single day.
The other books in our Time to Read bundle
Frankie’s favourite story in the bundle, was Vera Jewel is Late for school, by Nicola Kent. When Vera’s bike breaks on the way to school, she has to find a new way to get there. But every method of transport she tries, she ends up late for school. But she doesn’t give up, and eventually makes her own supersize bike, which finally gets her to school on time.
Frankie loved this story. And every time I said Vera was late for school, Frankie responded with ‘uh-oh’. The book has some lovely bright, detailed illustrations, which really captured Frankie’s attention and she spent ages looking at all the different parts of the pictures, pointing things out, trying to say words for the things she recognised.
Next up was I am an artist, also by Marta Altes. The story is about a little boy who sees all of his escapades and adventures, as works of art. But his mum doesn’t quite see smashing mirror and painting chairs in quite the same way. So he makes one big piece of art to win her round… It’s a funny book and gives a different perspective on a toddler’s world. We laughed about all of the things Frankie and Lottie have done, which I have been cross about, and said that maybe they were art as well.
And finally, but definitely the funniest book, was “You’re called what?” by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson. Lottie thought this book was absolutely hilarious. And of course, the more she got the giggles, the more I did too. It’s a story about The Ministry of Silly Animal names, where you are introduced to lots of animals, with really silly names. The more we laughed, the less able I was to pronounce all of the names, which caused even more hilarity. It really is one of those books which gets everyone giggling.
Win a book bundle
As part of the Time to Read campaign, BookTrust have kindly given us another book bundle to give away to one of you. The prize includes one of each of the four wonderful books outlined above, for you to share with your little ones.