Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: books (page 2 of 2)

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.

A brand new start

“I’m gonna clear out my head
I’m gonna get myself straight
I know it’s never too late
To make a brand new start”

The lyrics from one of my favourite songs sung by definitely my favourite musician; Paul Weller and Brand new start. Sums up quite well how I’m feeling about this little old blog right now. Feels like 2013 was a year where I swung between feeling completely inspired by my blog and knew exactly what I wanted to write to feeling generally bored with the whole thing and not sure when I’ll write the next post again.

I haven’t blogged much at all for the past few weeks, no particular reason it just felt like the right thing to do. But I have been thinking about it a lot. I still love writing and blogging is the medium to do that for the most part, but after 3 years of writing this blog I think it’s time to consciously evolve it a little. Much like Paul Weller has reinvented himself (see what I did there?) it’s time for me to do the same.

In reality it’s nothing revolutionary or dramatic but more can be summed up in one simple sentence:

Write about the things that inspire you.

2 toddlers in a bike trailerSomething I think I do on the most part but there are some specific decisions attached to this. First no more sponsored posts; I really didn’t do many anyway but whenever I did it felt like a little bit of my blogging soul died and for the money it brings in it’s just not worth it so they’re gone. Reviews can stay but I’m going to get even more picky about the ones I do so that they are really worth the time and effort.

Second I want to capture more of Matilda and Henry growing up, that was the whole point of starting this blog after all and I think I’ve lost a little of that. So more posts like this one that capture a moment in time that will be amazing to remember. I don’t want it to become like one of those dreadful Christmas letters listing every single event or achievement but I do want to capture a few more of the little milestones.

Matilda and Henry readingThird, more books, I love love love reading books with the children and also seeing them read them themselves. We are rapidly needing more bookshelf space but getting them involved in books is a big passion of mine so expect to see even more of them on here.

Fourth and finally the outdoors, the outdoors is what makes me happy. It’s what makes the children happy and it’s certainly what makes Bracken happy. Given that it’s also likely to make the Lady of the Manor happy! Our regular afternoon thing at the moment when we’re fed up with a day indoors is to chuck the kids into their wet weather gear and head out for a tramp around our little street.

Matilda walking close to homeWe’re blessed with our location in the countryside so we don’t have to go far to find some puddles or cows and you can guarantee that 30 minutes later we’re all a lot happier. So expect to see more posts about our mini (and maybe not so mini) adventures.

I might even take the brand new start theme a little further and give this piece of the internet a fresh new look to go with my new blogging mantra.

With that I will thank you for reading my mutterings in 2013 and hope you will come back again in 2014 to share in some of the things that inspire me.

That moment of calm

That moment of calm

Henry reading

It’s another time, another world

Cosy, content and almost still

The crying, shouting, laughing, craziness forgotten

Two faces entranced by the world that unfurls in front of them

Where shall we visit today?


The green meadow with the trip trap bridge perhaps?

Or the peace and quiet of the park with the hut in the corner?

Whatever the destination it’s always the same

Noises, smiles, cuddles

Karma restored, ready again for battle



Matilda’s book reviews; Shirley Hughes

One of the rights of a parent is to indulge their own childhood memories a little and this most definitely applies to choosing books. I love rediscovering books that I read as a child and introducing Matilda to them, however we both know that there is no guarantee she will like them. She won’t hesitate to tell me ‘no daddy’ and push a book away with a look of disgust when she doesn’t want to read something.

One thing we both agree on though is that Shirley Hughes rocks. If we were limited to just one author to read I think we’d both agree that Shirley is the best choice. Sure Janet and Allan Ahlberg might push her close (remember the Jolly Postman obsession?) but there is something about her books that have us coming back again and again.

For me it could be the nostalgia or that the stories that don’t involve TV characters, computers or mobile phones. They tell stories about a simpler time, perhaps a bit idealistic but definitely close to the Darling Buds of May way of life I dream of. But more than that the illustrations are beautiful, no need for the bold brash colours you often find in children’s books these days. They challenge the child to spot the details, revealing new things each time you read them.

A collage of Shirley Hughes

One particular favourite is Alfie gets in first, I love how she uses the spine of the book as the door he gets stuck behind. Which leaves him on one page and his mother outside on the other page. A simple concept but one that shows the story so well.

The prose is eloquent, understandable for a child without being dumbed down. Sometimes rhyming and rhythmic, others classic fiction. For me the rhyming books are probably her best but both are interesting to read which is always important.

Matilda loves Alfie, we have 2 or 3 books featuring him and they are extremely well read, some of them she can now tell you the story as we’ve read them so much.  There is one book where his sister Annie Rose is crying in her cot, for some reason this always bothers her and we have to talk about how she’s really ok and he parents are going to see her.

Matilda reading

The other favourites are the nursery collection which are more educational teaching things like colours and numbers. What I love is that colours are taught by showing a scene with lots of things in that colour. Yellow has a sun and a cat in the scene for example. It seems to really sink in with Matilda and she loves spotting each of the things in the picture.

We’ve now started moving onto the Lucy and Tom books which have a few more words to the story and so work well now she is a bit older. Looking at the other books she’s written it seems like we have more to come for older ages too.

So now you know who our favourite author is tell me about yours. Who do you like reading and more importantly who do your children like? Any tips for slightly older books also much appreciated.

The Gallery – books

Matilda is definitely a book worm and I think spends more time reading books than playing with toys, however as ever with this generation it was only a matter of time before she started using modern technology to read. Taken on our holiday to France a few weeks ago and a rare moment of calm in an otherwise crazy and fun week.

This is my post for this weeks gallery, do have a look at the other entries here.

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