My eight-year-old daughter begs me for a story every night. It’s a treat for her to be read to – especially if I agree to read the books of her babyhood, but perhaps changing the voice, the tense, the direction and even the names of the character to spice it up a bit.
I’ve been reading to her – not always out loud, sometimes in my head – since she was first conceived. It never entered my mind that a child of mine wouldn’t want to hear stories read to her, and for her imagination to be fired.
I hadn’t planned any particular learning outcome from sharing my passion for stories with my little girl, but as it turns out she always gets top marks in spellings, she recently won a story competition out of 500 children, and she constantly asks me how books get published.
The little booklets she fills with her words and pictures are a delight and an inspiration. She is so full of stories and plot lines, in the easy, unobstructed, uncensored way that children are – and I see in her approach a choice to control the entire narrative. I can almost see the strings pulling the puppets, in a narrative sense, but in a delightful way that gives the characters, and the readers discovering their fate, some security and some kind of future worth believing in.
The marks of spending time reading with children are indelible and, I hope, lifelong. My daughter won last year’s ‘dress up for World Book Day‘ competition by being Little Miss Splendid (basically all my clothes, including hat). There was no dressing-up competition this year, but my daughter’s passion and enthusiasm for books is still adorably splendid. And I’ll raise my hat to that.