I recently reviewed this enchanting counting book and admired the art work inside created by the talented Ruth Brown. Read on for a fantastic guest post from Ruth Brown on reading with children!
Tips for reading with children by Ruth Brown
Judging from my own experience of being read to as a child, reading to my own children and grandchildren and reading my books to 60+ 5/6year olds in many a school hall, there are few things as rewarding as sharing a book.
To begin – correction, before you begin – “Are you sitting comfortably?” vital for reader and listener alike.
And – relax. Whatever time you have to share a book, be it a quick bedtime story, hours on a long rainy afternoon or a morning in a school, concentrate on just that.
Forget about what you should, could, might be doing – cooking supper, answering the phone, feeding the cat, etc.etc. enjoy the moment. If time is limited pick an appropriate length story – believe me, I’ve tried the “ Well, let’s save the next chapter for tomorrow “ – it never works. Skipping pages doesn’t either, they always know.
Reading choices should be shared so don’t be alarmed at your child’s choices. I often had to wade through the ins and outs of cars and their engines as my six year old’s choice of bedtime story( and, no, he didn’t grow up to be a mechanic,he is an artist – still likes cars though ). But it was my choice the following night and what fun to read scary books, funny books, magic, sci-fi, poetry, and historical books. Books that squeak,books with holes, books that pop up and books that move – pull the tab, lift the flap, turn the page, what happens next?
Yes, what does happen next? In the book I’ve just finished, a counting backwards book, about Ten Little Dogs, one disappears on each page – it’s ok, nothing sinister – but where do they go? And what do they do whilst waiting to get together at the end? A story in a book is a glimpse into another world, but is that the whole story? What happened before the first page and after the last? Or when the book is closed?
In my books, I deliberately leave some things to the readers imagination and hope that that adds to their enjoyment of the story. The story is part of me but their imagination and interpretation makes it part of them. When talking to children in schools and reading my animal stories, I always ask them about their pets – that certainly opens the floodgates. But they have much more fun because we are sharing our stories.
I create a world for a child to enter and take from it what they will and, being the extraordinary creature that children are, they never fail to amaze me.
Whilst visiting one primary school, I was presented with some wonderful written work that the children had done when asked by their teacher to anticipate what I would be like. One little boy had written –
“I think Ruth Brown drives a tractor and sleeps in a soft bed.”
I love that. How did he arrive at that image of me from reading my books?
I wonder what he grew up to be.
TEN LITTLE DOGS by Ruth Brown is out now in hardback (£12.99, Scallywag Press)Find out more at scallywagpress.com