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Naomi & ‘Beebop’ (Livia) at Delamere Forest, celebrating the Gruffalo’s 15th Anniversary

Naomi writes a blog called Beebopbooks which promotes a love of children’s literature and reviews various books for children and their parents. Naomi has kindly agreed to guest blog today, talking about her passion for children’s books, the importance of libraries, stories her daughter loves and also the intriguing idea of reading to rabbits as a way for children to lose their inhibitions whilst reading aloud. Many thanks indeed, Naomi and Beebop 🙂

“Reading has always had a special place in my heart. From sitting on my nan’s knee, saying the words along with her, reading under the desk in school instead of doing maths, to the adult me reading on my way home from work. Books have been a motivator, an escape and a journey. I’m sure most of us have memories of reading as children, often when life moved at a slower pace and it seems a shame to lose those potential memories in children today.

A focus on reading has been on the decline in schools for quite some time. Despite the Ofsted recommendations in 2012,  to promote “reading for enjoyment for all”, a love of books has taken a back seat to achieving academic results and reading purely to achieve target grades. The closure of public libraries due to funding cuts has also hit children hard, especially in today’s economic climate when a new book can be a luxury.

Thankfully, there are signs things are changing. I have recently been involved in a project with a local rabbit rescue and primary school. The children read a book of their choice to the rabbits, increasing their confidence in reading, communication and social skills. The rabbits had a lovely time too! A friend of mine has a stepson, William (aged 6), who finds it very difficult to read aloud to adults but reads beautifully to the animals he lives with. He says they don’t interrupt, they just listen! The experience of reading to unborn children is also being promoted as a way to increase the bond between mums (and dads!) with their babies. Babies can hear outside the womb from 23 weeks gestation and can start to recognise voices and word patterns. When babies are born and life turns completely upside down, it can be a wonderful few moments peace from health professionals, visitors and housework to sit together and read. Kerry and baby Fred, 14 weeks, are currently working their way through Roald Dahl! I regularly take my daughter to our library read and rhyme sessions. We sing some rhymes, make a racket and then listen to a story. We’ve been going since she was 3 and a half months old and to be honest, it started as a way to just get out of the house. However, I have seen her learn to grasp instruments to join in with rhymes, pay avid attention to the story being told and smile when being read to. Now she is older, I’ve seen her try to turn pages, reach out to touch the illustrations and sit forward to grab a book. One occasion that especially sticks out in my mind is, when queuing (for a long time) in our local children’s centre, Livia decided to get a bit grumpy, along with 15 or so other children. A sleepless night coupled with a hot, noisy room doesn’t make for a happy mummy, and having already exhausted the supply of toys I’d brought with me, I rifled through a pile of books. The book I picked up was Augustus And His Smile (if you haven’t read it, you really should) and almost instantaneously, she was quiet. It was that moment when I realized that even very young children can fall in love with books.

Augustus is obviously one of our favourites, along with The Tiger Who Came To Tea and The Gruffalo. The Tiger Came To Tea was my favourite as a child so I wanted to share that with Livia and we fell upon the Gruffalo in our local library, quite by accident. We’re big Julia Donaldson fans in our house and have quite a stack to get through, so please keep an eye on our blog for reviews!

Reading to our children can be a beautiful bonding experience and will create memories for both you and your child to take forward into adult life. Reading shouldn’t just be as part of an academic process, but something to relax them, to enjoy as a pasttime and to share with the people they know and love.”

Follow Naomi’s wonderful blog, Beebopsbooks for some great book recommendations for little ones, like her facebook page and follow her on twitter.

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