Reading is a big part of life in our house. Lately, I’ve fallen back in love with novels thanks to the Bookish Mamas book club which I run online with two other bloggers (Jess and Naomi). We’re also helping Little Miss H with her school reading (which is really coming on). And bedtime involves reading at least two stories to Little Miss H and at least another two to Little Mister H (their book preferences are quite different and we haven’t managed to combine this yet.)
Taking ‘Time To Read’ With Little Miss H And The BookTrust
Little Miss H’s World
Little Miss H loves her books. She’s a creative and imaginative girl. She sometimes goes into a little fantasy world and can stay there for quite a while. When she was much younger, I remember upsetting her by sitting in the wrong part of her imaginary pirate ship. If only I could read minds!
Books really fire her creative side. She is always making up stories. But books also help her to understand new ideas and explore the world from the safety of her own bedroom.
Last weekend, we visited the 13th Century remains of a knight’s house (Old Soar Manor) and Mr H explained what a knight was by referring to Little Miss H’s King Arthur and His Knights book that he often reads to her. It’s a great story of diplomacy and compromise. And it immediately helped her to understand the place we were in.
The Important of Illustrated Stories
As you can see, we love books. So we are big supporter’s of the BookTrust’s Time To Read campaign, which gives a free book to each Reception-aged child in England. We still often read the copy of Nadia Shireen’s The Bumblebear which Little Miss H was given last year.
One of my favourite parts of the day is the moments before bedtime. The children are bathed and are squeaky clean. They are dressed in their PJs and they are ready for cuddles and stories. Recently we’ve started reading bedtime stories in Mummy and Daddy’s bedroom. We can snuggle up and enjoy some precious time together while we read. We also love taking a blanket outside and reading in the garden. And I’m looking forward to taking Little Mister H into our local woods and reading him some autumnal stories.
Little Miss H’s favourite stories are often illustrated books that are filled with bright and beautiful pictures that add to them. She loves looking at the illustrations as they help her to understand what is happening in the story and they push her to think beyond the story itself.
This September BookTrust is calling on families across the country to have fun sharing stories and illustrated books together. As this will not only inspire young readers but the illustrations on the page can ignite their creativity and help them to become independent thinkers.
A Book To Bridge The Gap
I was really delighted to receive a pack of illustrated books in the lead-up to this year’s Time to Read Week (which runs from 17th September to 23rd September). And one book in particular really connected with me.
If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know that my depression hasn’t been great lately. And I’ve been really conscious of the impact that this might be having on Little Miss H. I try to talk to her about my condition in a way that’s honest but not too scary. I also want her to know that my depression is not her fault. It is nothing that she or her brother has done. And that I still love them more than anything. However, it can sometimes be very difficult for me to verbalise these thoughts in a way that Little Miss H understands. And a good book can really help me to bridge the gaps. Enter The Colour Thief by Andrew Fusek Peters and Polly Peters.
The Colour Thief describes a father’s depression from a child’s perspective. It uses simple and very visual language to try to explain the impact depression can have on a parent and this can then make a child feel. It was hugely important for me to read this book with Little Miss H, even though it made me sad to think about how my depression may affect her. Little Miss H listened seriously to the story and seemed to understand that the book was about Mummy’s illness that makes her sad. And this is a fabulous book for explaining such a complicated topic. But there were a few things about The Colour Thief that really stood out to me.
1. The Illustrations
The illustrations that show colour draining from the father’s world really helped me to explain how depression can make me feel. It’s something that I can now refer to when I have bad days and if Little Miss H doesn’t understand why I’m not my normal self.
2. A Message Of Hope
There is a clear message of hope in the book. The story shows that with help, an episode of depression can be overcome. I always want to give reassurance to Little Miss H when I’m feeling bad. The book helped me to do that.
The Colour Thief doesn’t sugar-coat the realities of depression but instead, it presents them in a way a child can grasp and understand.
4. It’s Not Your Fault
“I thought I had done something wrong, but he told me I hadn’t”
This is my favourite line from The Colour Thief and it is repeated a number of times in the book. My biggest worry is that Little Miss H will blame herself for my depression. So it’s hugely important that she and her brother know that they’ve not done anything wrong, that my depression is not their fault and that I love them very much. This book reinforces this message and I’m so grateful for that.
Books can be a great escape. They can also be a way to bridge the gap between the world of children and adults. And I really felt that The Colour Thief helped me to do just that. It allowed me to address a very personal and complex topic in language and imagery that Little Miss H understands. If you’re a parent with mental ill-health then I can’t recommend this book enough.
Time To Read With Little Miss H
I was also sent a number of other illustrated books to read with Little Miss H. So one Sunday afternoon we snuggled up in Mummy and Daddy’s bedroom and we read together.
Little Monkey by Marta Altés
Little Monkey by Marta Altés is this year’s Time To Read book and will be given to all children of Reception age. I had great fun reading this book to our children. It’s a lovely, empowering story about growing into the world. Funny, real and lively, with bright and colourful illustrations, I’m sure that Reception-age kids across the UK will love it!
I Am An Artist by Marta Altés
I Am An Artist is about a little boy who is an artist and creates artwork all over his house – much to his mother’s dismay. The illustrations are an essential part of the story. And Little Miss and Little Mister H loved looking at the little boy’s artwork. It’s a very funny book with a brilliant ending.
Vera Jewel Is Late For School by Nicola Kent
Vera Jewel Is Late For School is about a girl who never gives up. A little girl called, Vera Jewel wants to get to school. However, she has broken her beloved bike and therefore Vera Jewel has to find other ways to get to school. However, these all lead to disaster and she is late for school every day. Until one day she discovers the perfect way to travel to school.
“You’re Called What?” by Kes Gray and Nikki Dyson
“You’re Called What?” has to be my favourite of all the books that were sent to us from the BookTrust for the Time To Read campaign. It’s just such a funny book and the children love it. This book tells the tale of a number of animals who are waiting to have their names changed at the Ministry of Silly Animal Names. And while waiting they engage in a game of who has the silliest name. From the bone-eating snot flower worm to the fried egg jellyfish, the shovelnose guitarfish and the aha ha wasp. This book will have you laughing as each animal reveals their silly name. And the best bit is, this book is educational without being boring. After reading it, Little Miss H spent the rest of the afternoon reciting all the animals’ names and chortling to herself.
You could be in with a chance to win a bundle of these four books. This giveaway is now closed.
How else can you get involved in Time to Read week? Join the Twitter party on Thursday 20th September from 8-9pm using #TimetoRead. Chat about why you love reading with your children, your favourite books, the best books for dealing with difficult topics, and how you bring stories to life for your children. There is even the chance to win some book vouchers. I hope to see you there.
Do you love to read to your children? When and where is your favourite place to read to them? And do you have some favourite books that you like to read together?
I’ve written this post in collaboration with the BookTrust and their Time To Read campaign. We were also compensated for taking part in this campaign and we were sent the book bundle for the purpose of this post. But as always all words and opinions are my own and are 100% honest.