I recently finished reading The Secret Garden, by Francis Hodgson Burnett, to my nine year old daughter. Although she loves to read by herself, we still enjoy books together. In fact, my daughter is a bit of a book worm, but she hasn’t always been like this. In the early days of learning to read she struggled to the point where it didn’t interest her in the slightest. When my daughter started school, the first books she brought home were picture books i.e. no words; the idea being for the child to tell the story themselves by looking at the illustrations. It was a real struggle for me to get my daughter to sit down and go through these books; they didn’t inspire her and she wasn’t interested in even trying. Looking back I think it was quite hard at the time to sit down and spend a quiet few moments going through the books.
I had a newborn and a two year old to deal with, so there was plenty to keep me occupied and the only time we had to sit down together was at bed time. That was always too late; tiredness would only make her worse and we used to end up falling out. At the end of reception year, my daughter had still not grasped the concept and she almost had to start again in year one. I blamed the reading scheme, as a lot of the books that were included at each level were factual and not aimed at girls.
I remember one book where we had to read about pipes underground; everything from water mains to electricity cables and telephone lines. I challenge anyone to find that interesting. The one thing I did cling to was the fact that my daughter enjoyed being read to more than learning to read alone. And a chance discovery of all my old books in my mum’s attic gave me an idea; we started to do our own reading.
I wanted to read my daughter some of the stories that had inspired me; stories that had such an impact on me that I can still remember them to this day. It has been fantastic to re-read some of my old favourites, and to see my daughter enjoying them too is even better. And it has definitely had the desired effect; inspiring her and encouraging her to find books of her own that she can enjoy.
Now I have to regularly go up to her at bedtime to remind her that it’s ‘lights out’ and there is always a complaint: ‘Oh! Can’t I just finish this chapter?’ So although I don’t technically need to read to my daughter anymore, both of us have enjoyed the experience so much that we continue to do it. Now we’ve moved on to Little Women. I felt teary at the end of The Secret Garden, so goodness knows how I’ll cope with this one! These are some of the other books that we have enjoyed:
Heidi – Johanna Spyri
Beezus and Ramona/Ramona the Pest – Beverly Cleary
The Enchanted Wood/The Folk of the Faraway Tree – Enid Blyton
The Wishing Chair – Enid Blyton
My Naughty Little Sister series – Dorothy Edwards
Gobolino the Witches Cat – Ursula Moray Williams
Little Old Mrs Pepperpot – Alf Proysen
James and the Giant Peach – Roald Dhal
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dhal
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing/Superfudge – Judy Blume
What Katy Did – Susan Coolidge
Anne of Green Gables – Lucy Maud Montgomery
Little House on the Prairie – Laura Ingalls Wilder What were your favorite books as a child?