The summer holidays stretch ahead like an ocean with a feeling of emptiness and wonder. Lauren Child, current children’s laureate, would offer it’s an ideal time for children to ‘daydream and stare out the window.’

Shanklin discovering the waves (C) Bookwagon

Summer is a time for making discoveries

What a great time to read!

What to read? How to read? Bookwagon is bombarded by these questions on a daily basis. Currently, we’re having parents turn to us, asking for direction following school reports and concerns about their children’s reading direction and expectation. They’re brandishing recommendations from schools, booklists bearing cobbled together titles like First Term at Malory Towers and The Skylarks’ War in the same reading bracket! It’s despair at dawn! Reading is not a competition. There is no finishing line!

1. Time

Make time to read every day. More importantly, make sure you take the time so your children realise reading is important to you, too. While attention to social media is a popular bow to break us, other considerations cut into our time.

Osborne House sharing a book (c) Bookwagon

Sharing a book on a day out

We are more scheduled than we have ever been.

We are connected to our cars more than ever. My mother, a very wise and environmentally aware woman well ahead of her time, suggested  every family should have no car days every week. We are linked to the shuttle- from car, to school, football practice, ballet, play dates, … We need time! Reading is not a competition, something to be snuck in as an ‘oh heckfire, we’re meant to read!’ What sort of message does this give? Do you take time to read? Do your children know how much you value this time? Value time off the wheel?

Guinea pig grooming time (c) Bookwagon

 Time for guinea pig grooming

2. Support your children’s selections

Support your children’s reading selections, whatever they might be. Your children might be influenced by friends’ recommendations.  Books chosen may be well ahead of their chronological or reading age, or seemingly well below. However, in showing your children that you trust their decision making, it allows them to own any mistake and move on.

Bedtime reading (C) Bookwagon

 Reading (the same book) together

3. Buzzy noises

Do not hear the buzzy noises of ‘what they SHOULD be reading’- please!! Most of the buzzy noises are nonsense from media campaigns pushing a blockbuster. Many popular books are pulp fiction, destined to be discarded to increase landfill. Support your children’s selections so that they find ‘forever’ books.

Dismiss the playground buzz of ignorance suggesting your child is reading below ‘their level’. What does that even mean? We don’t read for levels! We read for satisfaction, information, meaning and joy. See the light! Reading is not a competition. It is a lifelong link to wonder!

A selection of international titles (c) Bookwagon

 A selection of international titles

4. Don’t deny your children their preferences- comic books

Mr Bookwagon grew up loving  Marvel comics- Thor, Captain America and Spiderman.Mr Bookwagon’s comic devotion did not delay or affect his reading adversely. Quite the contrary. He has a wider reading range than anyone I know. In a day he reads entomology research, sporting facts, cryptic puzzles, economic titles, thrillers and children’s books. His range makes my head spin! However, reading is not a competition.

After to a recent school talk to parents, I was approached by a staff member. She thanked me for reminding parents that comics are a valuable reading matter. Her son had been dismissed throughout his primary school years for his comic book devotion. He is currently in his final year of medical school, a keen and curious, devoted reader. Reading is not a competition.

Sharing books in school (c) Bookwagon

 Bookwagon shares great books with schools

4 (B). Don’t deny your children their preferences- picture books

Do not deny your children picture books, please. There is no cut off time when they become too old for picture books. There is more to be found in the nuances of picture books than in most other forms of literature. They are a rich resource for building inference, knowledge and deep understanding. Seek out picture books. Reading is not a competition.

Fact and activity picture books (C) Bookwagon

     Activity and non-fiction picture books

 

A selection of new picture books (c) Bookwagon

       A trio of great new picture books

3. Seek people who know

In your routine,  include your public library, know your children’s school library change day, and link with independent booksellers. Librarians and independent booksellers are charged by a love of literature. They can make inspired and informed recommendations. Make friends with them.

Librarians and independent booksellers have their fingers on the pulse of what is really out there. They pass by the pulp fiction plastering chainstore windows, discounted to dust supermarkets, recommendations by billions-following vloggers, or past-it bookclubs. Leading librarian, Dawn Finch says, ‘You don’t feed your child junk food, so why feed them junk books!’ We are in a golden age of children’s books. Ask, seek, search, read!

A sample of great new chapter books (c) Bookwagon

A snapshot of Bookwagon’s new chapter books

Subscribe

Bookwagon’s gift book subscription is built for your reader uniquely. I have a notebook into which I match titles to our readers throughout the month. It takes a day to email my suggestions to our subscribers. We do not choose the same book for any reader.  It takes Mr Bookwagon and me a day to write the personal notes and wrap the books to each reader.

Bookwagon gift book preparation (C) Bookwagon

   Gift book preparations

Bookwagon will be extending its book subscription packages to include book bundles and schools and teachers’ subscriptions. Book bundles offer families opportunities to purchase a specified number of books for a holiday, special event, season, or follow up a theme, favourite writer or topic, e.g. nature, Lisa Thompson, or moon landings.

Bookwagon gift book mailing (C) Bookwagon

Gift books preparing for postage

Encourage rereading

Please avoid a Marie Kondo approach to books in your home. Your home is not a hotel. It’s a place of safety, nurture and memory. Keeping books supports a feeling of home. Opportunity to reread offers any of us time to reflect and feel reinforced. Every rereading experience brings something new. Seek ‘forever’ books that are meaningful time and time again.

Talk about your favourite books. Don’t expect your child’s to be the same. Read at the same time. Work toward a regular bedtime reading habit. Furthermore, choose from the wealth of brilliant children’s writers who are skilful, wonder winning and glorious.

Titles by Candy Gourlay

 Candy Gourlay titles

Series, themes and a good laugh

Seek themes, moreover in a variety of genres. Currently we are beset by space books. Obviously, don’t look to the most obvious, but seek those that have been curated, considered and are ‘forever books’ of quality.

Seek series. We all love the feeling of reading through a character, a writer, a theme, a setting. Furthermore, reading a series builds stamina, confidence, inference and pleasure. Reading is not a competition- ever.

A selection of series' titles (C) Bookwagon

A Bookwagon selection of series

If your child is a more reluctant reader, look for funny books, but don’t head to the most obvious, ‘world’s worst’, selection. Books that make us laugh promote the joy of reading, stay with us, and make us want even more.

Funny books (C) Bookwagon

 A ticklish trio of funny books

Show the joy

Reading is a pleasure. Laura Venning, Impact and Evaluation Research Manager of The Reading Agency reports on results from a recent survey:- Why reading for pleasure is important. Reading decreases the symptom of depression and dementia, improves wellbeing and relationships and increases empathy. Don’t you want that for your children? Reading is not a competition.

Happy reading! 

Shanklin seashore (C) Bookwagon

    Feeling the joy