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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Tempting Fate Teaser

"I’ve seen how he looks at ye like the moon rises on yer skin, and how he holds his breath when ye pass by so he doesn’t reach out to pull you in just so he can smell the vanilla in yer hair. He loves ye with the whole of his past, present and future, and it’s a thing someone like me, with such a small life behind and in front of me, can never compete with. Nor do I want to. Because ye deserve a love like that. Ye’re a good person, Saira Elian, and ye should be loved like ye’re the last woman on earth and he’s the last man. Because I guarantee, fer him ye are.”

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Reading Out Loud to Kids

I discovered Enid Blyton's books in a used bookstore in Katmandu when I was twelve years old. They were the only English-language kids' books in the place and they opened 1950s English village life to me as if I'd stepped directly into a painting of it.

I kept the battered paperbacks as a reminder of a life-changing journey, and then dug one out to read aloud when my oldest son was four. He was wide-eyed, occasionally nervous, and completely captivated by the Five Find-Outers and their dog as they solved mysteries during school holidays in their village of Peterswood. That one book led to a great hunt through used bookstores and Amazon UK to find the rest of the series, and sparked the very best kind of addiction in my now 10-year-old son - reading.

So now it's my youngest son's turn. Admittedly we went a bit out of order with him. The Harry Potter series came first and now his favorite games to play usually involve a pair of glasses and a wand. Then the 10-year-old suggested I re-read the Five Find-Outers series so his brother could love them too.

And he does.

The five children have the innate manners of English schoolchildren of the 1950s, with just enough mischief to keep them current. They're smarter than the bumbling village policeman, and delight the district Inspector with their abilities. Parents are strict, yet loving, and the mysteries are complex enough to keep even an adult guessing as the clues unfold. My older son is still as captivated by them as his brother, and 4 o'clock tea time has been revived as a tradition in our house just because it's what Pip, Bets, Daisy, Larry, Fatty and Buster the dog do in their summer house or at the bottom of the garden.

Here's the thing about reading a book I love out loud to my kids: I enjoy it. I really do. I even suggest it at odd times during the day when they're getting antsy or fighty or their imaginations start to fail in that "Mom, I'm bored" way. And when I pick up the book and just start reading out loud to them they NEVER say "Stop reading, Mom." Not once. Never. One will usually find his way next to me, soothed by the sound of my voice reading words he's heard before, while the other shifts to quiet play with legos while he absorbs every word into the wonder that is his steel-trap-memory.

Connecting with my boys in such an effortless, lovely, enjoyable way is worth far more than the five stars I can give this book. So there's a new category in town: books to read out loud to kids.

And this one is off the charts.