I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
I’ve had my lovely niece and her husband and brand new baby staying over the weekend. We got talking about books and reading last night and my niece seemed a little surprised that now was the perfect time to start reading. Bookstart has obviously made a huge impression on her so far!
Of course a baby isn’t going to understand the story, but it is going to learn about that special time of closeness and the tone of voice and, as the baby grows into a toddler it will associate words and pictures with books and nice times with Mum or Dad or who ever is close to read to them.
If you do one thing towards your child’s education, read them stories every night. A TV in their bedroom or story tape sand CDs cannot do the same job. TVs stimulate children and keep them awake. There is no discussion after a TV programme – there is no one to explain difficult words or ideas, TV zips them on to the next bit of entertainment, keeping them awake. Children need their sleep. If your child wants a TV in their room the answer is simple. NO! (You are allowed to say no to children – in fact it is your job to say no and set boundaries. Children love to know what the rules are.)
A child who has never been read to turns up at school when they are five or so, not knowing which way up to hold a book or how a book works. Yes, this still goes on, year after year. Compared to the child who has been read to for five years, that child has five years of learning to catch up on. No wonder some children slip through the net and get through school without learning to read. The consequences for them and society are disastrous. The prisons are full of children that grew up unable to read. It is the most common denominator in prison.
Children love routine. A story at bedtime is the best way to calm them down ready to go to sleep. Ten minutes spent reading a story is worth it. Otherwise you will spend half an hour chasing them around shouting at them to be quiet and go to sleep.
Children copy their parents. If they see you reading, they will read too. If there are no books or magazines or written texts in the house, children don’t know what to make of the written word when they finally meet books – words are not part of their culture. School then only exists to impose this discipline upon them rather than to teach them and open up the world of the written word that the rest of us live by every day.
Remember: If you only ever do one thing for your child – read them a story every night. Your actions will pay untold dividends.
What nicer occupation on a sunny, Sunday morning that picking fresh raspberries. This was my second bowl full. The first is in the freezer for puddings in the winter.
The adult audience were universally in favour of the printed book and could not understand why anyone would choose an electronic book over a printed book. This is common with adults. They have been brought up with printed books and are comfortable with the technology. It’s simple, cheap and doesn’t require batteries.
The Kindle and the Sony Reader are but the beginning of the revolution. The choice will really come when we have paper white screens that are not backlit, that have colour and movie quality motion, are waterproof, so you can read them in the bath, and are light and flexible with rock steady operating systems. This will be the convergence of all media. it will be something you can watch tv with, do your emails with, video conference with Granny with and read your book with. A universal lifestyle machine. It would become a part of you – like one of Philip Pullman’s Daemons. Your life would be backed up on the cloud and available to download to you machine wirelessly at any moment.
By then (ten years?) the book will have become an interesting gift item.
I know this will happen, because that’s where all the technology and publishing corporations are heading. Shifting lumps of wood pulp around the world is not sustainable. Information wants to be free and it will find a way to be free. Once the words are digitised they can not be held back. Children have no loyalty to the paper book. Whatever they are presented with becomes the norm. They will be just as happy with a Kiddie Kindle as they are with a paper book.
What this will mean for authors, I just don’t know. I think there are interesting times ahead. There are two conflicting problems. Authors need to be paid and millions of people are quite happy to write for free. Quality writing doesn’t just happen. Quality is judged, encouraged and tweaked by editors who also need to be paid.
Authors will have to learn to forget about royalties. They will have to find different ways of getting paid. No doubt publishers will turn into content managers, making money out of content in any way they can to provide funds to allow the authors to continue creating.
Oh Dear! I’m getting all sorts of crazy ideas now. I’ll have to think about them for another day.
As we walked home last night, we saw a view into someone’s front room. A young woman sat on her sofa. The TV was on but eyes were glued to her laptop. This is a normal scene in any household now. This has happened in the last three years. In ten years time, books will be strange objects that old people are interested in.
It makes me shudder to say it – that’s my living going down the drain – but it’s coming, sure as electric light turned candles into gift items.
I was quietly working in my shed just now, when an extraordinary and instantly recognisable racket outside rent the air. Having watched a million war movies as a child, I can tell the sound of Rolls Royce Merlin engines a mile away and that can only mean one thing – A Spitfire! I made a million airfix models of them too.
Sure enough, we had a minute long display over the town of a Spitfire diving and climbing through the air. Thrilling! Gone as quickly as he came.
Later… Now I find out there was a parade of the 1st Battalion of the Rifles in town and I missed it. Not sure how I didn’t know about that. A friend of ours’ son would have been amongst them, recently back from Afghanistan. The Spitfire was a fly past in honour of them getting the freedom of the district. The Rifles are barracked at Beachley, not far away, near Chepstow.
The news came through this morning of the end of the Literacy and numeracy strategy. Hooray!
I doubt it will be that simple. By Lunchtime it was clear that Literacy and Numeracy hours would be expected to continue. Just the providers would change. Could this mean that teachers could be allowed to teach from books rather than texts?
I’m waiting for news of my grand nephew at the moment – my niece is in labour as I write. I know it is going to be a boy but I’m not sure that I wanted to know. My daughter thinks it’s great to know what you are going to have because you can then co-ordinate the clothes and bedding.
The news always used to be, “it’s boy!” or, “it’s a girl!” This added to the fun and excitement and the novelty of a new person arriving. Knowing what sex the child is going to be allows you to imagine what the child looks like and make assumptions about them before they are even born. My niece was even given 3d scans which allowed you to see what the baby looks like before it’s born. These were then propagated on facebook! I’m sure it’s great for the medics, but I think it’s better for the parents to wait and be properly introduced to their child. Bed linen co-ordination is not really that important in the scheme of things.
My sister phoned and announced, “He’s arrived!” It doesn’t have the same ring does it!?
I took my mum into hospital this week, so Ive spent most of the time driving back and forth visiting and finding it very hard to concentrate on work. I went to Germany with half a Monster Boy book illustrated, assuming I would get it finished this weekend. But it was not to be.
Still I did see this wonderful view of cows in an orchard. When the sum was shining they seemed to be gliding on the buttercups. Wonderfully old fashioned and properly rural.
I hardly know where to begin, so I’ll start with the picture above, me and Mount Fuji. I never really thought that I would get there but I did and it was all thanks to the wonderful people at the Guam Council of the International Reading Association, who invited me to go all the way out to the Pacific Tropical Paradise that is the tiny island of Guam, which allowed me to add a couple of days in Japan on the way home. I’m still jet-lagged and very tired, so more will appear here later as my head clears, but the abiding memory will be of an island full of the friendliest, most welcoming people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting.
I visited 17 elementary schools. Each gave me the most amazing reception. I was treated like a rock star! More to follow…
It was actually warm this afternoon and I got out into the garden to clear up the autumn leaves and start tidying up for spring. So nice to be out in the sun.
Next month, I’ve been invited to visit Guam, in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. I’m now starting to get quite excited about it. A week on a island paradise sounds very nice at this time of year, but even better, I’m getting a couple of days in Tokyo on the way home.
I’ve wanted to visit Japan since I was about nine years old and did a geography project on the country. I wrote to the Japanese Embassy and they not only sent me the usual tourist stuff, but also a large folder of the most beautiful photographs of landscapes and cityscapes. I’ve always harboured a desire to go see myself, but have always thought it a pipe dream. This week I booked my hotel worked out the Metro routes from the airport and also booked a day trip to Mount Fuji returning on the Bullet Train. What is even better, the day I arrive is the average date for the start of Blossom Time.
I have a half finished collection of lullabies that I began work on nearly ten years ago, which seems to have ground to a halt. One of them is about blossom time in Japan. It needs anbother verse. Maybe this is what I need to kick start the project again.
Cherry blossom petals falling through the night.
Orchards fill with drifting clouds of pink and white.
The moon above is shining bright,
Floating like a paper kite,
Silver shines the night.
Melting snow, as water, falls down the mountainside -
Flows into the lake below, where Earth and sky divide.
Mirror-like, reflect the sky,
A million diamonds shine on high,
Silver shines the night.
Today, Obama becomes the President. It seem a long time since he won the election. In Britain we do things much faster!
However, to show thre are no hard feelings between us and our American cousins, we are having a tea party to join in the celebrations. We are getting out the best china for the first time in at least ten years, my wife is baking a cake and my mother is making Norwegian waffles – I suppose I should make some cucumber sandwiches!
Yesterday was supposed to be Blue Monday, the most depressing day of the year. Well, let’s hope that today marks the beginning of a new era – with Bush and everything he stood for out of the way, it can surely only get better?