Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: childrens books (page 2 of 3)

Storytelling dads – Darren Coleshill

It’s Tuesday which means it’s time for the 2nd post to celebrate Fathers’ Story Week which if you missed yesterdays post is a week long celebration of the power of dads’ reading with their children. Yesterday I shared my story about reading to my children and over the next 4 days I’ll be sharing some posts from my favourite storytelling dad bloggers. We start today with Darren who blogs at One dad 3 girls as well as being the brains behind Love All Dads.

1. What’s the best thing about reading to your children?  From a very young age we’ve always made sure we’ve read to the girls whether during the day or before bedtime. It’s been a great time to bond with them and I think it’s encouraged them to want to learn about what’s going on in the stories.

2. Where do you read to your children? As the girls have grown and got older storytime is now just before bedtime. It’s the lasDarren readingt thing we do before they go to bed.

3. All dads like doing voices when reading, what’s your party piece when it comes to impressions? I am always getting told by my wife to read the stories without silly voices but no one can read The Gruffulo without doing the voices.

4. Favourite book from your childhood? I was never a big reader as a child and didn’t really get read to but I do remember enjoying the Roald Dahl books.

5. What’s your children’s favourite book now? As Aly is now at school she gets all her books from school so they change a few times a week but given the chance the girls would pick books like The Smartest Giant in Town or Some Dogs Do

Aly reading

6. What was the last book you read to them? The last book I read to them was one of the old Mr Men books.

7. What book do your children love but you secretly hate? There’s none that we read at the moment that I hate but some of the older one’s like Spot or the Charlie and Lola books I really hate.

As you know I’m passionate about the importance of books in children’s lives and in particular the role that dad’s can play in sparking the enthusiasm for books in their children. Which is why in July I’m attempting to run 100km to raise money for Save the Children and their campaign to get children in poverty the same access to books and reading that we take for granted. I’d love it if you’d sponsor my run even if it’s just a couple of pounds, you can find my sponsorship page here.

Storytelling dads – my story

Every week appears to be a ‘week’ for something these days, the latest craze in the world of marketing and why not? Why limit a campaign to just a day when you can dedicate a whole week to it? Most of these of course pass us by but I thought this week was a good one to take a moment to recognise. For this week is Fathers’ story week, a celebration of the power we can have as dads when we read with our children. How we can inspire a love of reading and books in them with just a few minutes a day, a love that can make a huge difference to their learning and development as they grow up. It’s also a really good way for dads to bond with their children especially if like me you’re out of the house most of the day at work.

Ben reading to Henry and Matilda

You of course already know how much I enjoy reading with my 2 little monsters and how much they love books. Matilda helps me with regular book reviews on here to share the latest books she’s read and we have a house full of books. Well obviously not full, there is some space for sleeping and eating but I think ever room has at least a small pile of books in the corner as does the car.

This is also one of the reasons why I’m running 100km next month to raise money for Save the Children and their Change the Story campaign which aims to give the poorest children in the UK the chance to have a good education. The starting point for this is to teach them to read and share with them the joy of books so that they have that basic skill that most of us now take for granted.

So I thought I’d add my own contribution to Fathers’ story week by firstly sharing today my reasons for loving reading with my children so much and then secondly over the next 4 days 4 of my favourite dad bloggers will share their own stories. I’d love to hear about your favourite book to read with your children or for that matter the book you most dislike reading to them! If you want to learn more about Fathers’ story week you can click on the logo below.

1. What’s the best thing about reading to your children? 
The cuddles, although that’s a little selfish isn’t it? But it is one of the few times I can guarantee they’ll snug up and actually sit still for a few minutes. Nothing more fidgety than a toddler is there? I also love seeing the excitement on their faces as we read a book they love.
2. Where do you read to your children? 
Everywhere! Always on our bed at bed time snuggled under the duvet (Henry insists we get IN the duvet!) but if you sit down anywhere in our house chances are one of the children will hand you a book to read.
3. All dads like doing voices when reading, what’s your party piece when it comes to impressions? 
A do a mean owl impression and can also turn my hand to a West Country accent. In fact many of my accents start as they should and end up as West Country.
4. Favourite book from your childhood? 
Richard Scarry books are the earliest ones I can really remember but after that my childhood memories are filled with Road Dahl (hence Matilda!), Enid Blyton and Tin Tin.
5. What’s your children(s) favourite book now? 
LOVE anything by Shirley Hughes ( I may have written a whole post on that love a while ago) but in particular Dogger.
6. Last book you read them? 
Cinderella, Matilda’s current obsession.
7. Book that your children love but you secretly hate? 
I don’t hate any of their books and I definitely haven’t given any to a charity shop before to get rid of them….
Matilda and Henry reading
Do let me know what you think about dads reading and who does the reading in your house. Also if you, like me, think inspiring children to read is really important then you could always sponsor me on my 100km run and help raise money for Save the Children by simply clicking here for my fundraising page.

Matilda’s book reviews – Shouty Arthur

Shouty Arthur coverI think Angie Morgan may well have been spying on Matilda and Henry when she was writing this book, the characters are scarily similar. Right now my 2 little monsters are your stereotypical boy and girl. Matilda is clever (to the point of being manipulative), loves pretty things, carries her bunny everywhere and quietly goes about her business. In fact she is also just like Road Dahl’s Matilda! Henry on the other hand is a noisy boy, who is always climbing things and then falling off them, he’s easy going and loves playing with cars.

If you sit trying to do a jigsaw with Matilda you can guarantee Henry will appear and crash right through the middle. Interestingly one of the few times he will sit still and mostly quiet is when reading a book. Which brings us nicely onto this one. Arthur, as the title suggests, is a little on the loud side and much to his sister Edith’s frustration never stops shouting.

Edith tries to teach Arthur about wildlife but everywhere they go he scares them away ‘COME OUT YOU OLD RABBITS’ he shouts, ‘COME OUT YOU OLD SQUIRRELS’. Then he gets tired and falls asleep and all the animal re-appear until Arthur wakes up and starts shouting again. He then utters the classic line which I have no doubt I must have uttered when my parents took me around many Scottish forests ‘wildlife is a bit boring, isn’t it?’. Oblivious to the reason why he’s missed out on seeing all the wildlife in Edith’s book.

Shouty Arthur inside pageThe illustrations in this book are great, a little cartoonish and not trying to be perfect life drawings of the animals. I also like that the colours are not bright and in your face as seems to be the case for many children’s books. More subtle and in keeping with the natural landscape the children are exploring.

Matilda loves this book and looking at all the different animals, I’m not sure if she’s quite twigged that it’s like her and Henry though. Plus it means we can talk about what noises the animals make and where they live, I like being able to connect those things and then point them out when we see them in the wild.

Finally like all good books there is something to spot on each page, in this case it’s a lady bird hiding somewhere. The lady of the manor and I most definitely didn’t have a competition when the book arrived to see who could spot the ladybird first on each page, because that would be childish wouldn’t it?

Disclosure – we were sent this book free of charge, but all views are our own. Shouty Arthur was published on 6th March by Egmont.

Matilda’s book reviews – Is that you wolf?

Is that you wolf?We’re having to choose very carefully the books we read to Matilda at the moment, particularly at bedtime. I don’t know if it’s just an age thing as her imagination develops but she gets scared very easily. So gone are the 3 little pigs, the Gruffalo’s child (scary big mouse) and room on a broom (scary dragon and monster). In their place we have a cow in the cabbage patch  and any of the farmyard tales books.

I don’t want to avoid the scary things completely because some of the best stories have an element of being scared to them but I also of course don’t want her to have nightmares. Would love to know if any of you have been through this before and how you dealt with it. I can’t wait to start reading Roald Dahl books but have no chance if she continues to get scared like this.

Given all that it might seem a little weird that I am doing a review here for a book that features a wolf (a pretty big wolf, but more of that later), but I love this book and so does Henry so for now we’ll ignore the fact that Matilda finds it a little scary.

Is that you wolf? was a Christmas present and is just perfect for toddlers with the touchy feely bits on each page. The story follows a little pig who keeps thinking he’s spotted the wolf around the farm and can feel it’s claws or fur etc but it turns out to be just one of the farm animals. On each page you also get to feel the claws or fur like the pig does by putting your hand under the flap, but you can never see what you are feeling.

Is that you wolf inside page

This does of course mean if you are a toddler called Henry who is as delicate as an elephant that some supervision is needed to avoid the book getting trashed within 30 seconds! Apart from that it’s a great read, the suspense builds up until the last page when a great big wolf pops out from the page. Which incidentally is scary enough to have made the lady of the manor jump when she first read it.

The wolf!

Matilda as mentioned isn’t really a big fan of this book, maybe she’s going to be like her mum and hate being made to jump? Either way I think it may well stay on the shelf unless it’s just me and Henry reading stories, one to keep for those lovely 5.30am wake ups…

Matilda’s book reviews – Little Robin’s Christmas

My favourite thing about reading this book is getting to this page:

 Little Robins christmas inside

What you can see on this page is a hedgehog and I have no doubt this is exactly what the artist wanted you to see. However when you are 18 months old and called Henry what you see is a Gruffalo. And when you see a Gruffalo you of course also have to do you very best ‘growl like a Gruffalo’ impression. Which of course sounds much like a baby lion trying to growl, definitely more cute than scary.

It’s hard reading when you’re laughing your head off I can tell you.

Little Robins christmas coverI really quite like this book though, it’s a cute little story about a robin who has 6 vests and gives them away one by one to other animals that need them. Then when he’s got none left and is all cold that fine fellow Father Christmas turns up, whisks him off to Lapland and gives him his very own red vest. All with beautiful illustrations making it perfect to get you and the little ones into the Christmas mood and not a single mention of TV ad’s or special lorries turning up in towns.

Matilda of course loves it, although she does give Henry a disapproving look with his Gruffalo impression “it’s a hedgehog Henry, a Hedgehog, silly Henry”. She also makes sure to point out the moon on one of the pages and not just any moon “a crescent moon daddy”, where does this stuff come from?!

We haven’t got any other books by Jan Fearnley in our collection so I’m off to have a look now at what else she’s written. If anyone has any recommendations for books by her or similar ones then do please let me know.

Disclosure: I was sent this book free of charge but as you can see the opinions here are clearly my own

Matilda’s book reviews: Usbourne touchy feely – The nativity

Two things changed in our bed time routine when we were on holiday in Scotland; first Matilda and Henry became obsessed with this nativity book which has bits you can touch and feel like furry sheep and secondly we started all sitting on one bed to read a bed time story.

Usbourne touchy feely nativity

We’ve been doing bed time all together for a while now but perched on a chair and a stool in Matilda’s room which isn’t so comfortable. But in Scotland there was a double bed in the room Henry was sleeping in so we started sitting on that and it was just lovely.

The lady of the manor and I sat at either end with 2 little monkeys wrapped up in their grobags between us (or on top of us of course). We’d get all snuggled up with some cushions and the duvet before reading the 2 books for that evening. The babies drank their cups of milk and then blew kisses to everyone as we took them off to their cots.

Now we’re back home we’ve carried on the same routine except using our bedroom, which actually is quite nice because it’s neutral territory and being a king bed has lots of room! We all read together on there and we take a baby each into their room for a quick cuddle before it’s sleep time.

Now for those of you that don’t know this story it’s about a little baby who is born in a barn and as happens today lots of people pop over and give him some presents. Which if you’re a parent you’ll know means you’ll get a bunch of white clothes that’ll probably only fit for a week and will never be white again. Plus you’ll now have enough gift bags to keep you supplied even if every person you know has a baby in the next year.

Usbourne touchy feely nativity

Matilda and Henry certainly seem to like it, they love touching all the different textures and as there aren’t that many words to read I then use it as an opportunity to test out their vocabulary of farm animal noises. Matilda does always take time to point out to me the one solitary sheep in the whole book that isn’t furry. It seems to offend her for some reason, not entirely sure why and why it surprises her every time we read it that it hasn’t changed.

I do actually quite like this book, it amuses me that Matilda and Henry have no idea of what this story is really about and how important it is to many people. They just like the fact that there is a baby and some animals. But it is well written and as we approach Christmas is a nice way to start to explain to them what Christians believe that time of year is about. I may not be religious but I don’t want that to prejudice them against religion or understanding what people believe in.

However I may just hide it away with the Christmas decorations once we’re past December 25th, there are only so many times you can read a book.

Matilda’s book reviews – wow! said the owl

After a little Christmas break Matilda is back with her book reviews which I know is the only reason you read this blog. Thankfully our families know that we would much rather Matilda got books as presents than toys (actually she probably would also) and so we have a nice big pile of new material to read together at bed time.

Wow! Said the owl is already a firm favourite with me, I’m definitely a sucker for a simple concept for the story and a repetitive start to each section. This book is all about a little owl that decides to sleep one night so that it can stay awake the next day and experience the day light.

The owl is amazed by all the bright colours and if you hadn’t already guessed it each page starts with wow! said the owl as it discovers each new thing. It’s a really nice little story and gives me an opportunity to start teaching Matilda colours which is great. She’s definitely at that age where she’s really becoming a sponge for information and words so being able to show her each colour based on something she can relate to like trees or the sky is perfect.

Matilda loves spotting the owl on each page and is starting to understand what a sun and moon look like. I have also taken great pleasure in teaching her how to say WOW 🙂

P.S We’re also very excited to have won a bookshelf from Tidy Books this week in a blog competition which means that Matilda can start her very own library when we move house

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