This week, well this week and the couple of weeks before it we have reached a milestone in our story reading. Up until now we’ve read picture books, rhyming books, books that are mostly illustrations, ABCs and more than a few with lift the flap or touchy feely bits. We’d read a handful at various points during the day and then usually the same handful at bedtime tucked up on the end of Kitty’s bed with a girl on each knee and a boy squirming somewhere in the middle. And it was a lot of fun, but it didn’t always lead to particularly sleepy children and we’d then need to do the lying down and getting into bed and heading off to sleep bit before they were all settled for the night.
Until, I made the accidental discovery that Kitty is now old enough to listen to a chapter book at bedtime. I started reading a book of fairy stories just to see how they went down (they’re fantastic and when we get to the end of it I’ll tell you all about it) and when they were a roaring success, the next book shop trip saw Kitty the proud owner of her first real chapter book, A Bear Called Paddington.
It has lots of words and minimal pictures which has been a leap given how much we all adore illustrations, but for bedtime that’s actually perfect. Both girls snuggle down heads on pillows and I curl up with Pip on my lap and read a chapter. A whole chapter, all several pages of it, and because that means that I’m reading for a decent length of time, without jumping around between different books, Kitty snuggles down and gets really into the story and Elma and Pip curl up and frequently fall asleep.
And even when they’re not asleep we’re all sufficiently calm and relaxed that sleep is the easy next step. Or unfortunate side effect if you’re the one person in the room who’s supposed to be trying to stay awake.
But while the new shift in our bedtime routine is a very wonderful thing, that’s not the only reason why we’ve had so much fun with this book, the real reason is of course the story.
I don’t really remember Paddington from my childhood, I mean I could always recognise the branding as it were and I have strong recollections of hearing something when I was in Form 2 that involved very squashed marmalade sandwiches, but if it was part of the library at home, it isn’t a set that has stuck with me. But from when I did remember they sounded like exactly the sort of stories that we love; Paddington constantly getting into unintentional scrapes and having to find a way out that usually involves more than a little creative thinking. There’s no malice in the stories, no deliberate unkindness and it’s usually innocence and miscommunication that lands Paddington in so many sticky situations (literally and figuratively).
What illustrations there are are simple line drawings which somehow capture all the energy and movement in the scene in just a few lines, and your imagination fills in the rest.
I know that there was a Paddington film out recently; we didn’t see it at the cinema but I imagine we might well have it for Sunday film once it hits the tv on demand and so I’m really glad to have got in first, to have introduced Kitty, Elma and Pip to the real original Paddington, the one that’s conjured up by Michael Bond’s words and their imaginations, the one that won’t be displaced no matter how wonderful the big screen version.
I think that Pip and Elma have enjoyed the shift in storytelling and I know that Kitty has; mostly because she kept trying to put the bookmark back earlier and earlier in the book so that it wouldn’t end, and could only be persuaded to let us read the final story with the promise that there are many many many more stories about Paddington out there. And I can’t wait to introduce them to my little bookworm!
Last week Jess and Rosalie were reading a story that I first heard a couple of weeks ago at Library story time; my girls loved This is The Bear and were quoting bits of it for the rest of the week. I think it’s the start of a whole series too so there are lots of wonderful stories to discover.
If you have read something lovely recently, please do put your link in the comments section and shout to the world – and we’ll all come and have a read! What We’re Reading is a weekly round up of posts about children’s books. That’s about as far as the ‘rules’ go; it can be picture books, baby books, books for older children or even young adult if you like; just come and join us to tell us what you’ve been reading recently. Or if you’d rather join in on Instagram or Twitter that would be wonderful too, just use the hashtag #whatweread and tag me (@cariemay on Instagram and @cariemaymakes on Twitter) and then we can all come and say hi.
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