Thursday, 31 January 2008

Happy but sad

Another one of those little milestones is passing, and as is so often the case I am both pleased and sad at the same time.

We have always read books to the boys, right from before they could sit up by themselves. First Born had that habit that drives you wild as a parent of obsessing on one particular book at a time and demanding to have it read it over and over and over. 9 years later I reckon I could still recite a fair chunk of "The Lorax" by Dr Seuss from memory and I still want to kill whoever wrote that poem "The clockwork clowns go clickety-clack, you wind them up at the back back back" (Enid Blyton? It kind of sounds like her work.....)

As the boys grew, we instituted the habit of bedtime story which gradually evolved from reading little bits of Roald Dahl poems, or choosing parts of "A Child's Garden of Verses" to reading novels, one chunk per evening. We read all the Lemony Snicket books, all the Spiderwick Chronicles, some Dr Who novels, all the Just William books, all the Harry Potter books (though Husband declined to be involved in those - he hates Harry Potter. The freak.) We dabbled in the Jennings books, read a fair number of Nelly the Monster Sitter, most of Joan Lingard's books and sundry others.

Story time was a nice, quiet full stop to the day. The boys lay in bed (or rolled around, kicking the walls, falling out of bed and fiddling with whatever toys they found down the back of their pillows) listening, tried to plead for just one more page when I finished and then it was lights out. This comfortable routine has begun to change recently. They still like a story at bedtime but now they, off their own bats, have created "quiet reading time". They get ready for bed and then they each lie on their bed reading their own books. To themselves. Without me.

Don't get me wrong, I could not be more delighted that they choose voluntarily to read and want to read to themselves. I love books so much, and reading is such an integral part of me, that the idea of my children choosing to read for pleasure makes me go all warm and squidgy inside. It's just that I don't get to read the stories any more. And I really enjoyed that. I am kind of hoping that this is temporary and that there will still be a place for reading out loud. The book we were reading when quiet reading time showed up is, truth be told, not that great (picked by one of the gruesome twosome because it has a cool cover with a dragon on it, I suspect) and it may be that they just didn't fancy hearing more of that. Come to think of it, quiet reading time also coincided with the monumental visit to Borders Books after Christmas so there are plenty of books lying around that they are keen to read.

Maybe once they have read all the Goosebumps and Astrosaurs books, they will be more inclined to let me read something to them again. Or maybe I'll just have to staple them to their mattresses and give them no choice........


  1. It's so nice to see them branch out on their own, isn't it?

    How about making quiet reading time an extra thing after group reading? Maybe push bedtime back ten minutes or so.

    But oh! I feel your ache.

  2. It's a tough transition from little ones listening to your every word, to grown up boys reading on their own. Still, you should be proud of what you have accomplished. You have created two good readers!
    You can always ask them to read to you, you know...

  3. The dawning of a new era... Don't we spend so much of our lives wishing for the next phase - if only they could walk, if only they would eat table food, if only they were potty trained, etc - only to find that YIKES the next phase is here. Did we enjoy the past phase? Are we wishing away this one, too? Life... complicated... sad.... rewarding...

  4. We are still in the books with pictures phase, but I look forward to getting to read the novels at night to my boys. I remembering reading C.S. Lewis, and can't wait to start reading the Harry Potter books. I've seen the movies, but have been saving the books until I can read them to my boys. Backwards maybe?

  5. Ooh, Heather - I forgot! Yes, we read all the Narnia books too (in order, for I am anal that way)!

  6. Ah, I feel for you. Big boys! But as you say, it's great that they read. Thank you on behalf of English teachers everywhere.

    I would like to lose that 2 stone too. Would you care to nag me and I'll nag you? My knees aren't up to running, though. But I do walk.

  7. Have you read them the Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper? It sounds terribly sinister, but it's wonderful. I read it myself when I was 11, it's got some Arthurian references, and a lot of lovely family domestic detail of the main characters too.