Carrbridge in Winter - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography





Saturday, 1 April 2017

READERS - THE NEXT GENERATION by Linda Mitchelmore

Back in 2002, when I was being considered for a cochlear implant, my ENT surgeon asked what I would like to do if he agreed to implant me that I couldn't do now. My reply was instant. I said,'I don't have grandchildren at the moment but if/when I do I'd love to be able to read to them and hear their little voices reading to me.' His reply was instant, too. 'Oh, I think I'll be able to manage that for you.' And he did. I now have two grandchildren, Alex and Emily. For a year now we have had them to stay every weekend and reading to them has become a big part of that. Alex is almost ten and a good reader. He's especially good at sight-reading and now he often reads to his class at school. Emily- aged five - is full of enthusiasm for the written word and has already written her first book! It's called The Three Penguins - cover artwork by Emily also!
I kept most of the books my own children had when they were young. I think I know just about all the Mr Men books off by heart. But I also pick up books in charity shops I think Alex and Emily will enjoy. One recent purchase (all of 50p and it's in hardback!) is The White Sea-Shell by Benno Pludra. This a translation from a Scandinavian language (not sure which) and has, as most children's books do, a moral theme. This one is about friendship but also about 'not giving up when the going gets tough'. Alex read this one aloud to me over four consecutive weekends which was a new experience for him as he had to remember what had gone before and pick up the thread. As this book isn't set in the UK there was a whole different lifestyle for Alex to learn about too.
When I saw The Lonely Scarecrow by Tim Preston (also in hardback and another 50p spent!) I had to buy it. The pages are embossed and I think Emily enjoys running her fingers over the tiny holly berries and the rabbits' footprints as much as she loves listening to the story. There is a poetic feel to the prose in this book and Alex has read this one aloud too, and we both enjoyed it for the clever use of language. 'From the north there came a fierce breeze. A sly breeze that stole the leaves from the trees and the light from the days. A sharp breeze that hurried the animals homewards to their warm burrows and cosy nests.'
So, there we have it - I'm doing my best to encourage the next generation of readers. It's a privilege.

10 comments:

  1. As a preschool teacher I'm always immersed in stories, whether the children's or those in books. We love The Lonely Scarecrow and read it every Fall!

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    1. Hello Sonia. Lovely to have you pop by. As a teacher I'm sure you'll understand where I am coming from when I say that Alex needed to be encouraged to read out loud but his confidence has taken a real boost since his reading of The White Sea-Shell. The gift and the power of words, eh?

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  2. We own boxes of children's books that I can't bear to part with, Linda! I loved reading to my children when they were small and kept on reading way past when they were more than capable of reading for themselves. It's such a wonderful shared experience. Your grandchildren are extremely fortuneate to have a grandma who shares her love of books and writing. In this time of gadgets and the internet, it's nice to remember that children appreciate the simple pleasure of time spent together too.

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    1. Thanks, Rae. I was going to put in a bit about gadgets because we were at a 59th birthday bash in a pub last weekend and Alex and Emily were with us, as were two children a little older, one of whom was reading a book. I asked what it was and he said 'Treasure Island.' 'Good?' I asked. 'Ace!'. Alex - who rarely asks for anything - asked if I could get it for him. Lovely to see another child with an actual book and being so immersed in it.

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  3. What a lovely post.

    'From the north there came a fierce breeze. A sly breeze that stole the leaves from the trees and the light from the days. A sharp breeze that hurried the animals homewards to their warm burrows and cosy nests.'

    Beautiful storytelling is always a pleasure to read, but so rare in children's books. They miss out on how great the English language can be.

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    1. Thanks, Victoria. I like the 'over-use' if you like of a single word that enhances the story. We had a discussion about what other sort of breeze it could have been and Alex suggested 'destructive'. See Sonia's comment above - lovely to get that sort of response to a blogpost.

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  4. You're doing good work Linda! Lovely to see these books and think of children reading them for the first time.

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    1. Thanks, Gill, but it doesn't feel like work ... :)

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  5. I enjoyed your blog post Linda and hearing about the pleasure you share with your grandchildren. As one granny to another it is a wonderful world.

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    1. Thanks, Gwen. I read something that Michael Caine quoted in a newspaper article at the weekend - grandchildren fill a hole in your life you didn't know you had. So true.

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