Reading plays a big role in my household. We all read a lot individually but the area that I’ve let slip (and am missing) is reading to the boys; it’s something that I’ve always loved to do, is a lovely time together for the three of us, relaxes them before bed and I can’t put my finger on why it’s slipped out of our routine. Like most things it was probably just life, activities and basically running out of time but it’s been playing on my mind. As you know there’s a four and half year gap between the boys which is a little tricky when trying to find a book that appeals to them both; that’s not too simplistic and ‘babyish’ for my eleven year old and not too mature (in theme) and therefore confusing for my 6 year old. So, I’ve gone through our existing library, bought a few more and am looking forward to getting into them. So, if you’re looking for some family friendly choices, here are my picks and the five books that I’m going to be reading to my boys.
Michael Ende – The Neverending Story
This is the weightiest tome so the biggest challenge of the 5 as I’m hoping that my 6 year old will stick with it and stay engaged for the long haul. The book starts with a 10 year old boy (Bastian) hiding from bullies in the attic at school and starting to read a book; the story is set in the magical land of Fantastica that’s ruled over by the Childlike Empress. Fantastica is dying, a boy warrior Atreyu and his horse – and best friend Artez – are tasked with saving it and he meets enemies and creatures along the way including a luckdragon, giant turtle and wolf. It soon becomes apparent however that Bastian is not just an observer but is going to play a big role in the story and the fate of Fantastica will be on his shoulders. This story absolutely captivated me when I first read it as a child and I refuse to believe that that won’t be the case for my boys too. I mean what’s not to love?!
Madeleine L’Engle – A Wrinkle in Time
This is my most recent purchase and I’m hoping that it lives up to the hype as the movie was just atrocious; we barely got through 30 minutes of it, despite the appearance of a bizarrely dressed, giant Oprah! Again, another fantasy epic, this one tells the story of Meg and her 5 year old brother who travel through the fabric of time and space, with the help of Mrs Who, Mrs Which and Mrs Whatsit, to rescue their scientist father – who mysteriously disappeared a few years before – and help save the universe from The Black Thing. I think it has potential and am keeping my fingers crossed that it’s as magical as it sounds, and the recent movie was just a cinematic misstep!
Kenneth Grahame – The Wind in the Willows
Back to my childhood again as I remember sitting on the top step of my mum and dad’s spiral staircase lost in this story for hours and it was one of my favourites; I’m really hoping to pass this baton on to the boys and praying that my eleven year old will still see the magic of the adventures of Ratty, Mole, Badger and Mr Toad. The fact that the book is quintessentially English and is set in the leafy south east of Edwardian England really appeals to me as I am passionate about forging connections for the boys between their life here and my English background and childhood. I’ll just have to explain what a badger is first!
Frances Hodgson Burnett – The Secret Garden
Another English classic, this tells the story of a neglected young orphan Mary who goes to live with her uncle on the Yorkshire moors. Isolated and alone, she’s unhappy and a bit rude but starts to change when she forms a friendship with the maid who tells her about a private walled garden that has been locked since her aunt died there as a result of a gardening accident. She sets out to find the garden along with the cause of the cries that echo throughout the night and that’s where the magic of the story really begins. I like the fact that this has a female protagonist as the temptation is to choose obvious male themes (when buying for boys) and I think that it’s important to help them experience diversity of theme, character and perspective and really hope that they like this story as much as I did!
Robert Louis Stevenson – Treasure Island
And finally, and staying in the Classics genre, but it couldn’t be more different if it tried, this little corker tells of pirates and the adventures of Jim Hawkins; his search for buried treasure and the villains, wild beasts and savages that stand between them and the gold. Long John Silver and the sheer daring of this adventure have charmed generations of readers before us and I’m really interested to see if it will manage to entertain and delight my two!
In a world of Marvel, Fortnite and the lure of the online world, I still want my boys to enjoy the stories of my childhood and to enjoy being kids for as long as they can, so reading to them and enjoying these amazing stories together is so important to me. Have you got any favourite childhood stories that you’re enjoying passing on to your kids?