I opened a book and in I strode
Now nobody can find me.
I’ve left my chair, my house, my road,
My town and my world behind me.
I’m wearing the cloak, I’ve slipped on the ring,
I’ve swallowed the magic potion.
I’ve fought with a dragon, dined with a king
And dived in a bottomless ocean.
I opened a book and made some friends.
I shared their tears and laughter
And followed their road with its bumps and bends
To the happily ever after.
I finished my book and out I came.
The cloak can no longer hide me.
My chair and my house are just the same,
But I have a book inside me.
— Julia Donaldson
I love Donaldson’s final lines – “My chair and my house are just the same,/ But I have a book inside me.” If we know that experience for ourselves, we know how magical it is. Not wanting the book to end. So as half term approaches and the long summer break, let’s make sure we’ve got some books ready not only for ourselves but for our children. Perhaps a trip to the library or a browse in a charity shop is in order. If you are looking for ideas, here are some that my daughter (11) and son (10) have recently enjoyed. There are lots more on the blog, so do have a browse.
Children’s Book Recommendations 5-12
20 Children’s Books 9+
Over 20 Children’s Fiction 8+
Tudor Books 8+
WWII Historical Fiction 6+
Rainforest Literature for Kids
Those who write for children are trying to arm them for the life ahead with everything we can find that is true. And perhaps, also, secretly, to arm adults against those necessary compromises and necessary heartbreaks that life involves: to remind them that there are and always will be great, sustaining truths to which we can return.
— Katherine Rundell, Why You Should Read Children’s Books, Even Though You Are So Old and Wise
Rundell’s words are ringing in my ears. Continue reading
Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.
— Nelson Mandela
South Africa is a country dear to our hearts. My husband and I lived in Cape Town for the first three years of our marriage and so I have always been keen to introduce something of the place and people to our children. (A visit one day hopefully.) Continue reading
“…the voice that tells us a story aloud is always more than a carrier wave bringing us the meaning; it’s a companion through the events of the story, ensuring that the feelings it stirs in us are held within the circle of attachment connecting the adult reading, and the child listening. To hear a story is a social act.” — Francis Spufford, The Child that Books Built
I love Francis Spufford’s reminder that “to hear a story is a social act.” Continue reading
The children should have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times—a delightful double existence; and this joy they will find, for the most part, in their story-books”
— Charlotte Mason (Vol. 1, p. 153)
So it looks like holidays are off the cards this summer for most of us but in Charlotte Mason’s words we can still “have the joy of living in far lands, in other persons, in other times…” So at a time when we can’t travel and see people so easily, books are a magical way of doing just that both for us adults and our children. So let’s help our children travel this summer and choose books to take them places. They may even make some friends along the way. Continue reading
Excerpt from “Oxford” by Tom Lovatt-Williams
I see the coloured lilacs flame
In many an ancient Oxford lane
And bright laburnum holds its bloom
Suspended golden in the noon,
The placid lawns I often tread
Are stained and carpeted with red…
These lines from Lovatt-Williams’ poem ‘Oxford’ capture perfectly the beauty of this city over the last few weeks. Lockdown has definitely made me far more appreciative of the way nature is changing around us here in Oxford as we take our ‘daily exercise’. Continue reading
With Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday upon us, I’ve updated my book list. Perhaps you are looking for ideas for your family or as gifts for godchildren or grandchildren, you can browse my list here, Continue reading
I will defend the importance of bedtime stories to my last gasp.
— J.K. Rowling
Rowling talks of bedtime stories, and of course there is something special about children all ready for bed being read aloud a story about a faraway land before they drift off to the Land of Nod. Continue reading
There are few stronger family bonds than this habit of devoting an occasional hour to reading aloud, on winter evenings, at any rate. The practice is pleasant at the time, and pleasant in the retrospect, it gives occasion for much bright talk, merry and wise, and quickens family affection by means of intellectual sympathy. Indeed, the wonder is that any family should neglect such a simple means of pure enjoyment, and of moral, as well as intellectual culture.
— Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character
Happy New Year!
With my elder two at school since Easter, it has been very special to have time in the day to read longer chapter books to my four year girl that are pitched just for her. Continue reading