Baobab Tree Books Blog December 2022

For the love of reading…

One of our absolute family favourite things about Christmas is our big, green, spangly sack of Christmas books which we save just for December. It’s an eclectic mix of classics, picture books, charity shop bargains, books that make us laugh out loud and even those with special effects and sounds. So far, we have not gotten rid of any as even as my boys grow older (8 and 6) they still love the safety and security of an old faithful and snuggling up in last year’s now slightly small Christmas PJs under our Christmas quilt sharing these stories for the umpteenth time just never gets old. We love it! And last year we got to add our own Christmas book, Christmas Cabaret, to the mix which I’m not going to lie, gives me an even brighter glow even though my boys think it’s perfectly normal to feature in their own Christmas book and see nothing special about it whatsoever (think eye roll here)! Nevertheless, even in the absence of your own Christmas book, in regards to the reading – this is just normal Christmas family behaviour right? Another time-old, sacred tradition like decorating the tree, Christmas jumpers and watching Christmas movies. Unh-uh unfortunately not.

Last year according to a report by the National Literacy Trust, research shows that one in five children in England between the ages of 5 and 8 do not have access to books at home. This is truly heartbreaking! One in five! The rising cost of living has been cited as the main reason for this and although my heart goes out to anyone in financial crisis especially in todays’ turbulent times with all these escalating costs, this seems to be an excuse that is sometimes bandied about a little too readily. There is always an array of children’s books in every charity shop across the country available for pennies…but books needn’t be bought for they can be borrowed. Libraries would welcome with open arms any child eager to take a book out and to many parents’ relief as well as my own, there are no late return fines for children’s books – phew!

The problem is that reading is no longer as revered as it used to be. It is no longer always considered to be something that families do together as a source of pleasure but rather something that must be endured with parents on standby during those early phonics years to guide and coax but taking more of a backseat as soon as their child shows that they are able to read relatively competently independently. There is a plethora of research to this effect and it makes me sad, albeit that I know that eventually my boys are going to want to stop reading with me and will no doubt have to beg me to read on their own.

Now don’t get me wrong; we aren’t all going to be readers. It’s partly nurture but nature obviously plays a part too. Like anything else, we all have different tastes and interests and time constraints and goodness knows there is plenty to fit in to any 24 hour period. Even my own father was dubious that I could raise two boys as readers and although at this stage and time they most certainly are readers, he is still holding back on the settlement of his debt (a whole case of Châteauneuf-du-Pape no less) as he seems to think that once they hit the teen years, they won’t choose to read anymore. This remains to be seen. Obviously, I certainly hope not and will continue to carve out his special time in the hope that it shapes them forever as I genuinely believe in its importance. I love all those memes about reading; my favourite being that infamous Dr Seuss quote…

Now for fear of sounding a bit sanctimonious, it should be noted that although I do do the reading thing well, I am by no means perfect or even competent in all of the other parenting areas but in all honesty everyone, the reading thing is easy; it’s a pleasure. It’s one of the lovely times so I urge you this Christmas plant the reading seed, nurture it and let it grow. It will pay dividends.

Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. 

Lots of Love, 

Baobab Books xx

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