On Saturday I did a book signing/reading at John Lewis Cambridge, to celebrate the fact that they are now stocking my books! Hurray.
The best thing about it was not selling copies (though that was obviously pretty good) but meeting lots of Mums and Dads and their lovely kids, who had all come along for a chat, or to ask questions, or to enjoy some story-reading.
And I was so impressed by how still the kids all sat, and how beautifully they listened!!
It was a busy, boring Saturday morning in town for many of them, and quite a few were pretty hyper or fidgety when they sat down.
I thought it was going to be a complete disaster at best, and a riot at worst.
But after a minute or two of me reading to them, engaging with them, showing them the pictures as I read and asking questions from time to time……..there they sat, eyes GLUED to the pages, listening intently to The Gruffalo, Paddington at the Zoo, The Snail and the Whale, Mog and the Baby and many more.
They sat. They listened. They loved it.
One lady said to me afterwards, “I’ve never seen my son sit and listen like that. He never sits still!”
Reading to kids from birth is one of the most important things we can do for them. Unfortunately it’s also something that a fair few parents find either difficult, or boring or embarrassing. But I guess the thing to remember is that THEY don’t find it at all weird when you baa like a sheep, or ee-aw like a donkey, or put on a comedy accent to play Gruffalo (at home my Gruffalo accent has been French, Scottish and Mr Bean so far.) They love it.
The other thing to remember is that simply by reading to kids and thus instilling in them a love of reading and stories, you are giving them an invaluable gift for life. I’m prepared to be embarrassed, or bored for that.
Our local library is threatened with closure, as are thousands across the country. If we lose local libraries we are closing the door for millions of children to be able to flick through hundreds of fantastic, beautiful books, choose whichever they like, and read a new story every day – FOR FREEEEEEEE!!!!!
Reading to those children on Saturday really made me realise how vital reading, or having stories read to them, is for children. Please, please read to yours. Even if they can read themselves – keep reading to them from time to time (and every night for under 8s!) and make it exciting for them.
Children love opening books. And books open worlds.
Open a world for your little’un- today, and every day.