Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: reading

Bookstart book selection

It’s amazing where blogging can take you and 4.5 years after I started yesterday may well have been the best thing to happen to me as a blogger. I spent the whole of the day at the Booktrust HQ in London helping to choose the books that go into the Bookstart bags. It was a long, tiring day reading and discussing children’s books but it was also thoroughly enjoyable, thought provoking and inspiring.

As we went around the room introducing ourselves at the start of the day I felt a little out of my depth there were health visitors, librarians, a CEO of a charity running children’s centres, even the person who started the Bookstart scheme. That’s some company! Then me, management accountant and dad blogger, no training in children’s education or experience of dealing with children in disadvantaged areas. But what I do have is 2 very important things; a huge passion for inspiring children to read and of course some very real experience of what small children like to read.

Bookstart book selection

I know that my experience of being a dad is a very sheltered one; we live a reasonably comfortable life in the Wiltshire countryside, the area is by and large white and while there are deprived areas nearby they aren’t ones where my children go to preschool etc. Being part of the discussions today with professionals who support some very different families has been fascinating. Beginning to understand some of the challenges they face and how the books we chose could help or hinder them as they support families. For example many books feature food but we had to consider whether the type of food could hinder a discussion about healthy diets etc.

It was also interesting seeing how people reacted to books, how their opinions varied to yours and how they may interpret a story differently. It also challenged some of my preconceptions about certain styles of book and definitely opened my eyes to some authors I would never have come across otherwise.

If your child is due to get a Bookstart bag at some point in the next year then there is a good chance I helped choose the books that went into it, I do hope you like them! Realising the consequence of the opinions I was sharing certainly focused the mind, for some children these could be the only books they have at home for most of their childhood so they have to be great ones.

However the one category that isn’t yet final was for the Bookstart Treasury which goes to 3-4 year olds, we’ve been asked to send in any suggestions we have as we couldn’t agree on a single book to submit. The funding for this category was reduced and Booktrust have had to go down from two books to one, picking just one book that meets the needs of lots of people is really hard! So if you have a book that you think every 3 and 4 year old in the country should read then let me know.

While I can’t of course share the books that made the final shortlist I did want to share a few from each category that I loved, ones that might be added to our collection some time soon. If you’ve read any of them already then let me know what you think.

Making stories part of family life

Every so often I get asked to write a guest post for another site and quite honestly I often say no because I struggle to find the time to write here and on my running blog. But one place I never say no to is the Scottish Book Trust. The importance of books in a child’s life is a huge passion of mine and I love having the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the topic. Plus they are doing great work in trying to give children the opportunity to read and discover the pleasure of books.

Matilda and Henry reading

Last week they very kindly published a post I’d written about my top tips on how to make stories part of family life which if you’re interested you can read it here. Making reading books and telling stories part of everyday life can have such a big impact on a child’s development and change it from being a chore or just a bed time activity. After I’d written it I thought I’d ask my followers on Twitter what their top tips were to see if anyone had a great idea that I hadn’t thought of. After all Twitter really is the no.1 source of parenting advice and you can guarantee there will be someone willing to offer their thoughts to any question you have.

What I hadn’t quite expected was such a fast and passionate response, it seems I’m not the only one who loves books! So I thought I’d share some of those responses here as a bonus extra post to go with my post of the Scottish Book Trust site. These are also some very fine people so if you aren’t following them on Twitter already then you really should. Here’s their thoughts on how to make stories part of family life:

  • @tiddlyompompom – regular bedtime stories. Quiet time reading instead of tv. Making up stories together.
  • @Eliza_Do_Lots – my boys always have access to books, we have bookcases and shelves in every room, and read with them and to them daily
  • @yummymummy1210 – visits to the library, browsing books in shops/supermarkets, setting an example reading yourself, bedtime stories…
  • @GemmaRidlington – the toddler has 3 bedtime stories every single night! And we read during the day too.
  • @littlebigsports – bed time stories every evening
  • @theenglishdad – sometimes get my 3yo to ‘read’ the story just by making it up herself from the pictures. Encourages her to go thro the book
  • @Kellyfairy – stories every bedtime. Book tokens as presents so they can choose their own to keep. Take them to the library. Oops that’s 3

That was just a few of the responses I received, I’m sure there are many other suggestions also but I think we all agree it’s about make books accessible at all times so your child can independently go and pick one plus having that routine of regular bed time stories. If you do have any other suggestions of things you do to help make stories part of your family life do leave a comment below.

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



The Gallery – Two

The lady of the manor and I always knew that we wanted children and specifically more than one. While we may still be in negotiation about exactly how many children to have we do both agree that we liked the idea of them being close in age. There are 13 months between Henry and Matilda which has certainly been tough at times, not least for the lady of the manor who was heavily pregnant and dealing with a not yet walking Matilda.

But now we’re starting to see that it was worth that hard work, with Henry almost walking the 2 of them are really starting to interact and play together. They chase each other around the house or up the steps of the slide. They splash each other in the bath and laugh hysterically when the other does something funny.

I can see us having an awful lot of fun this summer once Henry figures out the walking thing properly and begins to talk a bit. Which is why I’m so thankful we moved house and I can get home to do the simple things like read a story to my 2 crazy children in the garden on a beautiful summers evening.

Ben reading to Henry and Matilda