The microbe loved being a wolf for World Book Day. So much so that he refused to take the hat off for the rest of the week. (Books schmooks, kids -it’s ALL about the dressing up!) On Friday I overheard his hopeful little voice in the kitchen asking: “Daddy, is it World Book Day again today?” and G said “No” and I heard the three-toned “Awww-wwww-wwww!” of disappointment.
But he did get to wolf about on the beach in Brighton at the weekend.
Thanks to World Book Day I found myself pondering the nature of book-love in pre-reading children and I think that a large part of the attraction must be that special, one-to-one attention that a small child experiences when being read to. The really cute thing yesterday morning was finding James passing on the love to Harriet, who sat patiently through several ‘stories’ before becoming distracted by string.
The microbe has become quite precious about our pre-bedtime ritual in which we cuddle up with nursery rhymes while he drinks his milk… in truth, it’s probably the only time of day when he has my complete and undivided attention. We tend to cherry-pick our way through a pile of 3 or 4 books, including an ancient, yellowed copy from my own childhood that is held together with tape. This one contains a rhyme called The Goops, which I can remember my sister reading to me – and the yellow page with its distinctive illustrations has always stayed in my mind…
Whenever we finish it the boylet says “Mummy, I’m not a goop!!” (He totally is, you know.)
Others are just plain creepy… (and it’s best not to google them because their origins are often even worse!)
But, generally, James’s newer editions are far nicer than my tatty old relic copies and often have gorgeous illustrations. One has the most spectacular pop-ups, with several nested rhymes on each page. It’s hard to photograph but an enthusiast in Japan has put a youtube video of it online.
I love the current revival in pop-up books. I’ve always had a thing for them but I don’t remember anything quite as ‘wowy’ as that when I was a microbe.
A teacher pal of mine has a theory that gorgeous picture books might be the last salvation of paper books for James’s generation. This lot are going to grow up reading kindles and tablets, with only the occasional foray into paper but, as she put it, when you see a small child with their head buried in a huge picture book, they’re literally inside the book, which must be incredibly immersive for them – and perhaps these early memories will stick. By the time the microbe is grown-up, paper books will be considered ‘vintage’… I wonder if he’ll hang onto a few of these early picture books, as a reminder of childhood.
Right now his favourite thing in the world is this Noah’s Ark pop-up ‘play book’, which someone was selling as an unwanted gift on Ebay.
Inside is an envelope full of folding cardboard animals to march up the ramp – and the ark itself has little doors, windows and roof-hatches that you can open and close. There’s also a mini-storybook inside, containing the thrilling tale of a megalomaniac and the mother of all “sad choices”…
Speaking of which, the boylet has announced that he’s not playing with the bunny boiler this week, following an extended run of “sad choices”. (Alas, some other child now seems to be on the receiving end of bunny-boiler fisticuffs.)
Most days, if we ask James what he did at nursery and try to coax the details out of him, we find that he’s not so much ‘economical with the truth’ as ‘generous with the fabrication.’ He’d really love us to believe that every day involves visits from horses and cows and zoo animals and Old Macdonald.
Instead we rely on the weekly newsletter for a modicum of truth as to what they get up to. This week’s smorgasbord includes phonics, decorating flower pots, learning about the life cycle of frogs and doing Irish dancing. (Irish dancing! I don’t know about you but I think I’d pay good money to watch a room full of toddler Michael Flatleys.)
Well, once again, I seem to have rambled on. So I shall say goodbye now and go and get on my way. Bye bye x