Learning to read.

Fraboo has been at school, for almost a year now, and she is developing new skills almost daily. Chief amongst her new found abilities is reading. Every evening after school, we are treated to a new reading book. The first ones she brought home, were really rather uninspiring. I’m sure you know the sort of thing: “Tim is in. Tim is out. Tim is up…” I’m sure you get the picture. I found it quite difficult to get excited about little Timmy’s latest adventures in standing and sitting. However Fraboo’s reading is coming along a treat, and although it would be untruthful to describe the latest offerings as great works of literature, they are more expertly written than say Fifty Shades of Grey (or so I am assured) or The Da Vinci Code.

I realise that writing a reading programme is quite some undertaking but I sometimes wonder whether their authors get a bit of writers block. I went through Fraboo’s reading record and at the last count there were four stories about going fishing, two about a cat getting stuck in a tree and another two with a dog named Lucky. This is fine, and I understand that repetition is useful to reinforce certain words and concepts. The major problem with this though is that as a parent, I can’t help feeling a little bored by it. At the end of a day at work, the last thing I want to hear about is how the fire brigade have been called to Tiddles’ aid AGAIN or that Lucky still likes to sleep next to the fire. Does this make me a bad parent?

To add another dimension to her literary intake, we will dip into some of her favourite picture books. These have been great fun and Fraboo is recognizing small words and adding larger words to her vocabulary. We will often share the role of narrator and when it is my turn, I will often get words wrong just to see if she is paying attention. She is getting better and better at noticing when I make a “mistake”.

Perhaps the time has come for us to be starting some chapter books. Certainly when I was younger, I loved it when we were read the stories of the Famous Five at bedtime, in fact those are some of the most vivid memories I have. When I was finally able to read to myself before I went to sleep, whole new realms were opened up to me, and I have the same aspirations for my own children.

Boy-Boy meanwhile, is still at an age where he loves to be read to. Just before he goes to sleep we will pick two or three books and read them together. As with most children of his age, he does have a favourite story. It’s the tale of a little tiger who can roar very loudly. I imagine that our neighbours must think that it’s feeding time at the zoo when he and I roar at each other at full volume, but they are yet to complain. I would however, be lying if I said that we hadn’t woken Jojo up on occasion, much to Mrs L.’s irritation.

He does clearly love reading, and can often be found in his bedroom surrounded by a pile of books which he has “read” to himself. What is even more incredible is that he hates to be disturbed when he’s halfway through a story, crying in protest when I interrupt him to fetch him for his dinner. Aside from the mess (which doesn’t particularly worry me) this is a beautiful sight.

Even before I became a Dad, I maintained that instilling a love of reading and books is one of the most valuable things a parent can do for their kids. It is the gateway to so much knowledge, and entertainment. These days, I tend to read for escapism. A large part of my spare time is spent with my nose in book, and I adore it. When I was a youngster, a lot of value was placed on reading, and this is something I have tried to replicate in my own home.

Now though duty calls. Fraboo is brandishing her latest reading book, and it looks to be the story of a dog (my old mate Lucky no doubt) and a fox, who go on a fishing expedition. I can’t wait to see when they have time to chase a cat up a tree!

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