Visiting Cornwall

It’s been a while….but to kick off the new academic year I’m posting some books we enjoyed in the lead up to our Cornish summer holiday back in July. A mixture of picture books and longer chapter books. We actually listened to Susan Cooper’s classic Over Sea, Under Stone in the car as a family, and watched the BBC documentary beforehand to set the scene.

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Getting in the Picture

“To really instil a love of art, children need to be encouraged to have a go and be creative themselves.”

— James Mayhew

In the last three blogposts I have shown how James Mayhew brings life to museums in Katie’s Picture Show, and now in this final post I want to explore how he brings life to the artwork itself.

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Mayhew’s story begins in the Classical world. Continue reading

Over 10 More Children’s Books 9+

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. Continue reading

20 Children’s Books 9+

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

Introducing South Africa

Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.

— Nelson Mandela

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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

Read Alouds for 5 year olds

“…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

Children’s Fiction 8+

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

Oxford Stories

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

Easter Books and More

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

Best Family Read Alouds of 2019

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