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Books children parenting reading supporting others World Book Day

Reading to children

Cartoon style pile of hardback books

After I posted my World Book Day post last week I was asked if I could include these statistics:

Did you know: Reading to your child for 20 minutes a day can increase their lifetime earnings by £280,000?

Despite this: Only 18% of new parents read to their children for 20 minutes a day (In The Book reading survey, 2020)

https://www.inthebook.com/en-gb/blog/benefits-of-reading-to-children/

But I felt like the topic was took large to just add to an already published blog post so I’ve written this.

I read to mine from the moment they were born, not only did I read picture books but storybooks, may of which were above their reading age. Also when they were babies, especially with my daughter who preferred to sleep in my arms, I would read myself whilst she slept. But I did not read to mine to increase their earning potential. I read to mine because I enjoy books and enjoy reading.

Even though I was a single parent I chose to home school both mine. This meant that there were a lot of reading opportunities. Every subject we covered involved reading and, as home education is a family activity so was the reading in it.

One of our most enjoyable moments in each month was when the Horrible Histories comic would arrive. We could sit on the couch, read through the magazine and then do the quizzes and activities within it together. I read to them most bedtimes until they were in their teens. I found it was a great way to settle us all down for the evening, but it also gave me a chance to read out loud some of my old childhood favourites, and read some of the children’s books they were reading. Often we would have a novel that I would read to them and then they would read to themselves.

So why do only 18% of new parents read to their children for only 20 mins a day? I think it is because we expect so much more from parents now compared to when mine were smaller. My husband’s friends are career people who work long hours, make sure their kids are having lots of extra curricular experiences but then when everyone gets home they are tired and ready to unplug, so TV is a go-to. And I don’t blame them. I think being a home schooling single mum I had two advantages. One I was not trying to fit in a career around my children’s lives but also I was not having to fit another adult relationship into my life. I had lots of space to read, both to them and for myself.

I believe instead of condemning new parents for not reading more to their children we need to spend time with them and find out why. For a working parent it is hard to get to a library that is open at a time that works for them, because many libraries only have done day a week where they open late and this may not be on an evening they are free. As has been found over lockdown many people, even though they have more time, have had less head-space to get lost in a book. Reading takes focused energy and many avid readers over this time have struggled to read. Imagine if reading is not your first activity to unwind, then imagine you are working all day and trying to run a home too? Where is the time? Where is the head-space?

So I do think instead of saying this isn’t happening we need to find out why, need to find a way to help these new, and not so new, parents, find time to read to their children, and also to be able to read themselves. As someone said the best way to get kids to read is for them to see their parents reading.

8 Benefits of Reading are:

Enhances their literacy and reading skills

Enhances their language skills

Creates a stronger parent-child bond

Better concentration and discipline

Improves performance in school

Widens their imagination

Promotes healthy brain development

Keeps them entertained 

https://www.inthebook.com/en-gb/blog/benefits-of-reading-aloud/

I don’t believe parents don’t read to their children because they don’t want to but because they cannot find that opening into reading themselves. There are many great websites out there to help.

But really as a society we need to ask ourselves how we can stop condemning and instead ask how we can support

How can we find a way to support them?

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Books family reading World Book Day

World Book Day is on Thursday 4th March

This is a pile of books that I need to read my way through for the Celtic Studies MA I am attempting

It is going to be World Book Day on Thursday and I’ve got a post going on GodSpaceLight which I will post on Thursday but this is a preliminary to remind everyone to be prepared to spend a day immersed in a book to celebrate.

I used to love World Book Day. I say used to because it was something to do with the kids who are now all grown up. Not that my kids ever needed encouraging to read. We spent a lot of time with no TV so once they were old enough they would curl up in a chair and read. In fact my daughter taught herself to read! Yes it is true. In the bedroom her and her brother shared there was an alcove which I had painted as a book cave with a bookshelf on the end wall. It wasn’t big but there was room for a small child to curl up on the floor. She would often be found there at 7am looking through books. One day she told me she could read. Because of where we were living I know she was between 3-4 years old. Because I read to them each night I thought she’d just remembered the words so we walked down to the library – which was one of those lovely old fashioned ones that was in an old Victorian house with bay windows. Not big but the children’s section was adequate. I got her brother to choose a picture book. One that we had not had before. She read it through. He then chose another one and another. Yes she did stumble over words she had not seen before but that child could read.

So even though World Book Day was set up to encourage reluctant readers my two loved it. From HEAS, our home education support group, we would be sent two £1 vouchers. These could be exchanged for the designated World Book of that year, with either a short story by a famous author, or snippets from other books to entice the reader to something new. My two would take their tokens to our local independent bookshop with some pocket money and then spend a good hour working out what they wanted to buy. There was often discussion between the two of them so that what one bought the other could also read. That was until my son got more and more into books about the World Wars or more modern conflicts. I think he still read hers though as she stay mainly into mythologies and he’s always loved those – probably because they have good fight scenes. 🙂

Like I say they are both all grown up. He’s getting married when covid allows. She’s living with us whilst on furlough as our house is warmer than her flat. But this Christmas he bought her a book and for his birthday later this month she’s buying a book for him.

Both do not read as voraciously as they did. My son blames his fixation with Facebook which he has given up for this year – hence the need to have a book! Both of them love to have books around them. My daughter, even though she on such a limited income with furlough, and having to pay for a flat she’s not living in, is still planning to buy some books because she loves to own them. I am much more of a library person and have stacks of books from the library. I even have a dispensation that I can borrow more than the allotted twenty.

So for me World Book day holds those bitter sweet memories that all mother’s have when their children have grown up, were they miss what was but that they can see that they have done something right.

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2020 Review

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Normally I would do my end of year review to coincide with Christmas cards I was sending, whether physical or electronic, but this year I have decided to wait until 31st December to post, and am even tempted to wait until midnight just in case. It is not that I am fearful but this has been an “unprecedented” year.

At the time I would normally have done this post I was still laid up with bruised ribs from falling off that horse though was starting to plan what I would write, and I suppose even Different Christmas was a lead up to that. But then just as I was in the planning stages for that my husband got shingles and has been very sore with that. Then on Saturday 19th Dec Wales announced that all was change for Christmas and we were going into lockdown again – though from the volume of traffic I would say that only means that pubs and cafes have now closed. Not sure if I can see much other difference on the roads. It is definitely not back to April’s sparse traffic volume. But then on Sunday my daughter announced that she had tested positive to covid and so, even though she wasn’t coming up here for the holidays it did mean she was going to have to spend it home alone! All this in just a week!

This has been the strangest of years. Even to the point that our cat went from eating biscuits to demanding that we feed her cat meat from a tin. She now has meat twice a day and ignores the biscuits that sit waiting for her to be hungry enough. If it hadn’t been for the local cat rescue places being closed all the tins that had been in the cupboard for the last few years would have gone to them but now she’s eaten them all.

Talking of pets – our crazy rabbit died in the summer, happily of a possible heart attack whilst he was sunbathing before begining yet another digging project. He was buried inside his own warren of tunnels that he had constructed over the four years he had been living here. He is still very missed and the amount of veg peelings in our food recycling bin has increased.

As with everyone 2020 started normally enough, though it was odd for us because my husband chose to stay home for New Year’s instead of going to a youth hostel with old university friends. So actually even the start of the year was different for us with us being together when we woke on 2020. We went away as always for our wedding anniversary at the end of January, which was followed by my husband going off for a week of intensive Welsh learning on the Llyn Peninsular. He managed to get away climbing with friends in Scotland at the start of March, but by the time he went away then things were starting to change and covid was being muttered about. We had two Airbnb guests, both in the medical profession, who went from saying it was nothing to worry about to slowly getting more and more concerned about it, to our guest from Burma having to cut short his stay so he got home before all airports were closed.

I was supposed to go on my regular March writing retreat but felt uneasy about going which was just as well because suddenly things got serious. So instead of being in Gwynedd I went Cardiff to bring my daughter to stay with us when the pubs closed. We bought her some walking boots the day before the country went into full lockdown. We thought we were going to be walking all over North Wales, but then the 5 mile rule was introduced and we finished up doing lots of walks around where we live. We have seen my daughter more this year, probably a good 4 months of the year, than we have since she went off to university about 7 years ago. I picked her up yesterday, now that she is over her coovid isolation time and will spend New Year with us and stay until this lockdown lifts. So even though we have seen so much more of her this year when it comes to everyone else – my son and our mothers and our friends – we’ve seen them less than normal.

My husband changed jobs at the start of lockdown and has now been working for his new company for 8 months and never seen the inside of his office or met any of his colleagues face to face. We are so grateful for our lovely big house and him being able to work upstairs in his own office. But his is the only work going on in the house because, with all the guidelines and restrictions, it is not safe to run our house as an Airbnb rental home for the time being. Read more about that on Humility. And since not having guests coming and going it has changed how I see the house and what it is for. For now I’m not making any decisions how things will look regarding Airbnb and room rentals in 2021, but I do know I see this place much more as a family home now than a business.

We did manage to get away for a flying visit to Somerset to see our mums and a couple of friends at the beginning of August and my son and his fiancee came up to us for a long weekend in mid August. Both times we were blessed with great weather. And we managed 6 days in Northumberland in late September, though because Northumbeland went into tier 3 we were not able to see one friend who had moved there a couple of years ago, and also a friend’s 50th wedding anniversary party was cancelled. But we did manage 6 days of walking, reading, and resting together.

As well as Airbnb all my work has stopped – no more writing groups, no more schools work, no more workshops in the library. All very strange. But I have been doing a lot of my own writing and a few of my blogs from here are being published on Godspacelight.com which is quite exciting. I have also been working with a young illustrator and we have a book called The Little Yellow Boat which is with BumbleBee Publishing in the process of being put together and published later in 2021. I will tell more about that once it is out in the big wide world. My plans for 2021 are to work on more short stories and other ideas and of course to blog more. I do not want The Little Yellow Boat to be my only publications. I have also been working towards an MA in Celtic Studies and have loved the modules about the Mabinogion, especailly the Four Branches. I am thinking of doing some stores around the women from the Four Branches.

Every year we do not know what is going to happen, but I think 2021 is probably the one where we have the least idea. Will the vaccine prove effective enough to bring back “normal” life? Will we have enjoyed some of the changes and not want “normal”? For some their business will never be the same again. Many will be bankrupt. For others there plans will be delayed and will be able to move forward a year or two later. But also within that not knowing are things we do have control over. I plan to continue with the Quantum Energy Counselling healing work I’ve been doing. I will work on my own writing and develop a body of work and look at being published. I will meet up with people when I walk with my dog and have great conversations. I will email my friends. And I will carry on reading. All these I have control over. As to whether I’ll start Airbnb rental again or whether I’ll be able to restart writing workshops and schools work, that I have no control over, so will hold lightly. Also I do have control over how I behave towards what is going on around me and I hope I can hold Joy and Hope in the right place and walk as God wants me to through whatever is thrown my way.

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accepting Airbnb anniversary choice dog faith family friendship God historian history influence Jesus not alone reading relationships writer writing

Knowing Where You Come

DAN-SNOW-A5-2019-DATES-LO-722x1024.jpgLast night I saw Dan Snow, The History Man, speak at a local theatre. One of the many things that he said that struck me (so be warned there could be many more blog posts to come) was that he knows people say, generally behind his back, that he is only doing what he does because of his family. He paused before saying “Yes I am.” He went on to say that because his parents both had a love of history, that his father was in television broadcasting, because they had money and could afford to go not just to historic places close to home but across the world, that yes that is why he is stood on this stage now. He is doing what he does because of where he comes from.

Here is a piece that dovetails with that –

Jan Fortune in Becoming Your Story Course says “So many people describe themselves as ‘self-made’. It’s an outlandish concept. We all emerge from someone, have childhoods and environments that affect us and exist within various networks, physical and emotional. I’m certain we can make huge changes in our lives, re-invent ourselves, change our values and goals, but the idea that we don’t need others along the path is arrogant as well as unrealistic. No one is self-made”

My thoughts are that if you hear something more than once and it resonates for you then it is for you.

I could weep that I did not have Dan Snow’s upbringing and opportunities. I could weep that I am not Jan Fortune. I could bemoan that I am not a whole host of people. As well as grumbling that I did/didn’t do x, y and z. But I am here sitting in my lovely study watching the snow falling, my little dog snoring between my legs because of my parents,

snow jan 19
My study window as I wrote this post

my life choices, the people I have met along the way, the friends I have met, the people who have spoken into my life for good or bad. All have led to why I am here now.

A lovely friend that I share my writing with said he was amazed that I could write about medieval battles when I haven’t experienced any. Actually that is not true. I have experienced them through what I have read, listened to, watched, visited. All are part of who I am. Yes I have changed my life, reinvented myself, changed my values and goals over the 50+ years of my life. But each and every one of them has been influenced by who I met, what had gone before, or experiences at the time.

Here are just two examples:

  1. I didn’t go travelling abroad because it just popped into my head one day. I went because someone suggested it, even though she didn’t come with me in the end. I went to the place I did in Greece because someone recommended it before I left. And from there the people I met influenced where I went from there.
  2. I didn’t “become a Christian” out of the blue. Lovely well-meaning people invited me to their church coffee morning. From there my life has been again to do with who I met, who suggested what, good and bad things that happened along the way.

So as Dan Snow stood there and said “yes I am here because of my family and I am grateful” I also say I am here in this place now doing what I am doing because of my family, my friends, the influences that have happened.

I am starting off on a new direction with my life – taking my writing seriously and actually telling people I am a writer. I am doing to spend 12 months being mentored to

DSCF0719.JPG
Husband and dog Saturday celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary in the rain on Lleyn Peninsula

help this process along. But this has not come about in isolation. It has come about due to many influences and encouragements. Also because of a husband who is content for me to not to have a career but to be home bringing in a modest income via Airbnb and writing workshops, and using the rest of my time writing, writing and writing. I am grateful to him for that.

So I am here typing, looking out my window in North Wales at the snow with my little dog still snoring because of the life choice I made to marry just over 12 years ago. But actually that only came about because I choice to be living in the town I was, etc, etc, etc. So let us all choose to understand where we have come from and many people have made us who we are now.

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2018 being me Books choice reading

Recommended Books

I am now not going to recommend you any books 🙂 Well I might.

the bloody chamberI am reading a book at the moment, “The Bloody Chamber” by Angela Carter, which was not recommended by someone I know. In fact quite the opposite. She said she had had to read it for her book club but had not enjoyed it. It was too dark for her. I must say I am loving it. In a way she did recommend it because she said that I, and another in our writing group, might like it.

I have just given up, for the second time of trying, on “Ulverton” by Adam Thorpe because I still can’t get into it. It does nothing for me and a long time ago a friend said ‘life is too short to finish a book you are not getting into’ and that is so true. So I’m afraid once again I am going to have to give up on Ulverton, even though I am hoping to write something similar in future, which is why I keep being recommended it.ulverton

Books, like art, like music, like food, like coffee have a certain taste to them and one likes them not because they are amazing but because they fit in with one’s taste. Interestingly both the above mentioned books are Vintage Classics. I did just check that because I was about to say that I don’t like what are commonly known as classics. I do have Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” in the pile of books I have from the library. I am plucking up the courage to read him soon.

When I look back on the books I have borrowed from the library I would be hard pressed to give my best 10. There are some I don’t even remember getting, so they won’t go down. I loved Emma Healy, both her books, have been stuck by joy of catching up with “old friends” in a Raymond E Feist novella, learned all sorts of different things, realised how much poetry I have read this year. But faves? Not sure

my study
Random pile of books on the desk in my study that I have to read at some point. They will have to wait until 2019 

So as 2018 draws to a close and everyone comes up with their ‘best of …’ lists. I think we all need to be careful not to think we have missed something just because none of what we liked is on someone’s ‘best of’ list.