Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Reading aloud, one year on

Last year, I happily described how I read aloud to my child every night, in spite of the adverse comments of some other parents (and one relative-who-shall-be-nameless). The main advantages, as I see them, I mentioned here last year: time together, a chance to introduce some books which children might not think of trying for themselves, an opportunity to challenge your child a bit in terms of language, and so on. It's also a chance to move on from some favourites which (for the parent, at least) can begin to lose their appeal after much repetition. Nothing against re-reading favourites, of course, but that's something children can do by themselves when the book is already familiar.

It is with some trepidation that I return to this subject, as soon after blogging about it last year life intervened in that unpleasant way it sometimes does. A persistent chest infection and cough first reduced my reading aloud to a pitiful croak followed by bursts of coughing, and then led to abandoning the whole enterprise, much to my distress. It has taken me a long time to get back to something approaching normality, and by that time I was meeting quite a bit of resistance to the idea of starting again. It is harder to go back to the habit after such a long break: but after some negotiation with my son we are, I hope, back on track with a new book, chosen by me but with, so far, his approval. It's a book I had read to me as a child, so we are back in the dangerous territory of living in the past, and furthermore it is one of the many books which cause my husband to look gloomy and say that he "tried" to read it once. I won't reveal what it is until it is either abandoned or successfully completed, and then we'll see whether everyone else thinks it is suitable for an eleven-year-old or not! It's in English, and it's a bit dated (OK, I admit it), but I've never been one of those who thought that children should only be exposed to literature with a contemporary or familiar setting: meeting the unfamiliar in books is one way in which your horizons are expanded, after all. (In my public library days there were often heated discussions among my colleagues about this very subject, regarding the selection of children's literature for the libraries. I'm in favour of having a wide range, and that would include some unfashionable titles as well as the latest. The good ones survive the test of time, and the bad ones mainly don't, unless they just happen to be still lying round your house!)

Watch this space for how I get on with reintroducing reading aloud after a ten-month break, and what, if anything, we get out of the mystery book!

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