The joy of reading to children

First posted last summer, I was reminded of this when I recently visited a local school to read from Guardians. I’m sharing that experience in my February 2022 newsletter. And I get to do it again soon, once the prequel to Guardians, Legend of the Winged Lion, is published – very soon! [now published and available here]

Over the last two weeks I was privileged to take part in two local library events linked with the UK’s Summer Reading Challenge. This annual event encourages children aged 4 to 11 to read as many books as possible over the summer holidays. There’s a different theme each time to give them a steer. So far, over 1.5 mio books have been read through the Challenge.

Wild World Heroes
poster of Guardians covers

This year’s theme was Wild World Heroes. This made me prick up my ears in a very greedy manner! Our young heroes from Guardians of the Forest are of course the perfect Wild World Heroes.

Knowing your local libraries is important

Over the past few years I’ve established good relationships with most of my local libraries. We have a mix of public and community run, taken over by volunteers when the government sadly pulled library funding several years ago. My getting in touch led to two sessions in different villages in the Forest. Numbers were small, but I certainly enjoyed myself. And I’m pretty sure the children and accompanying nans and mums did too, judging by the reactions.
It’s a while since I’ve read to kids, so hadn’t realised how much I missed the sheer pleasure of holding their attention as we discovered the desolation of the forest through Callie’s eyes, or Mark’s horror that he was about to be a wolf’s dinner! Ooohh!!
Even better was how one young boy’s eyes lit up when I gave him a set of the books. They had been set aside as a prize for a competition which didn’t happen and he was so attentive I knew he would read them. I would give books to kids all day to see that look.

Encouraging creativity

Children’s engagement in stories is a joy. I get to see this through Dean Scribblers, where we mostly work with the older primary school age group. While Covid put paid to projects during 2020 and most of 2021, we are now beginning to go back into schools.

I was the kid who spent much of my life on my stomach on my bed reading, while Mum pointed out the sun was shining outside. I also did venture out, given we lived near the beach, but reading has always been my most relaxing pleasure. Instilling this habit into children from an early age confers all kinds of benefits in terms of vocabulary, the ability to articulate their feelings, expanded horizons and stimulating creativity. Unlike electronic devices or films, reading forces children to form their own picture of the settings, what the characters look like and how they respond to situations.

Read read read!

What I read

If you’re curious, the sections I read came from all three books. Here’s one of them….