Day 24 (Week 4, Day 3)
Ooh, I came back from the library with a big bundle of 20+ books this evening! It's always strangely difficult taking back so many fantastic books, even though I know we're taking out a load more, because we've had such a good time reading them it's disappointing to know that we won't be able to just pick one of them back up to read one more time if we fancy it. Still, that's what makes our libraries such important and fantastic places - they're always there for us to go to, to get our favourite stories out time and time again.
So, what did we read this evening? Read on to find out!
When picking books for the Picture Book Challenge, I literally just grab the first things that I find which we haven't read yet, so that I'm maximising our chances of discovering hidden gems that we didn't know about before. What I wasn't expecting to pick up and choose for tonight's reading was a book about divorce! I'm sure that there are people who would think children shouldn't be exposed to this sort of thing at a young age, but a) my parents went through a separation when I was about 5 (Josh turns 5 in May) and this sort of thing would no doubt have helped explain what was happening in a gentle way, and b) it's highly likely (unfortunately) that your children will know someone in their class whose parents have separated from an early age. I don't believe in ignoring topics, as I think you can explain things to children early on without it traumatising them as long as you're there to answer their questions.
Now that I've finished that small bit of background, we enjoyed reading Miss Dirt the Dustman's Daughter as we saw the fortunes of Miss Dirt's parents change from one extreme to the other, talking about how some people can have a lot of things and others are less fortunate, and how it can all change without warning. Josh seemed really thoughtful after we read it, and I think he had difficulty choosing a favourite part of it as it made him think in a more grown up way than normal, though I think it's good that a story can do that. It didn't focus on the parents getting a divorce, more just that they had done and so Miss Dirt lived in two very different ways when she was with each parent (if that makes sense). I'm sure this would be a good book to read from a pastoral care point of view in a school.
Chris says: I liked that the story was up front about the fact Miss Dirt's parents were divorced, but it didn't try to explain too deeply how Miss Dirt felt about it or why they had gotten divorced, just that it happened and this is how Miss Dirt lived. It's not trying to say that divorce is normal or not a difficult subject, just that children will know other children who have divorced parents and therefore here's what their lives might be like. A picture book doesn't have to shy away from a difficult subject, particularly when it deals with it sensitively and matter-of-factly like here.
Josh says: I liked that she still had fun with her mum and dad.
Animals acting like humans? Yep, always good for a laugh! This particular story sees a mother and pup going shopping for his father's birthday, and makes a good showing of the difficulty that parents face keeping their children entertained whilst shopping in a big department store. Let's face it, kids just want to be in the toy section and nothing you say or do will change their minds on that one! There's lots going on in the background of each picture spread which gives plenty for you and your child to talk about, and there's a good lesson as well to bring up with them about not running off in a public space. I do appreciate a story that allows me to have an important discussion with the kids!
Chris says: I particularly like the dogs' choice of present for the father - I'd be chuffed if Josh and Xander thought I was cool enough to merit buying a skateboard for!
Josh says: I liked the skateboarding dog.
Xander says: I'm doing fixing! I'm going to fix the dog! (N.B. We really have no idea what he thought needed fixing with the dog, but he had a very determined look in his eye when he said it!)
I love when a book gives us something to talk about for a while afterwards, and after reading Big!, a story about a boy who likes to look at the world around him to see what he's bigger than and what is bigger than him, we spent some time before bed doing exactly the same thing! The illustrations in this book are delightful, giving off a warmth and charm that make you pleased to be snuggled together as a family, talking about the different sizes of anything that comes into your head. We liked the end where the boy has grown taller than his friend, which shows kids that some of what they compared themselves to size-wise will change as they get older.
Chris says: This type of story is great, because it gets children thinking about the real world and how it relates to them, in addition to firing up their imaginations. Even as an adult there's a fascination with anything much taller or much smaller than ourselves, because they stand in such contrast to us, and this book helps children to think about it in a bright and colourful way.
Josh says: I'm bigger than your phone but smaller than huge buildings.
Xander says: I'm bigger than Superman but smaller than Captain America.
So, to summarise Day 24...
An evening to talk about real life 'things' with the children tonight; what it's like when parents split up, their place in relation to the world around them, and most importantly what to buy Dad for a present! I'm kidding with the last one, of course...
But seriously, most of the stories we read focus mainly on having fun, rather than worrying about what's going on in the real world, so to have an evening being a bit more reflective is no bad thing from time to time!