I am well aware of the deep irony that as I am about to publish my first book, until very recently my children considered books a necessary evil to get mum or their teacher off their backs. I have battled with this, not wanting to put them off, but knowing they needed to break through that barrier of basic comprehension to start hearing the stories for themselves inside their heads. I felt they both had a disconnect with the stories they heard outwardly, and were missing that inner connection.
You want to instil a love of literature into your children, yet they don’t want to read. It’s a problem I know I share with many other parents. In our house we have resorted to bribery, reasoning and outright bullying at times to get our children to painstakingly read a few lines at bedtime. Mostly we read to them, but as my husband steadily made his way through the pile of Harry Potter tomes, I knew we needed to crack this.
The first breakthrough came with our daughter, now nine years old. After repeatedly dodging how many books she had read, and her aversion to reading being so profound we actually found ourselves in outpatients at Croydon Hospital seeing an eye specialist. There was nothing wrong with her eyes though – it was all in her head. Then one day her teacher read a David Walliams book to them in class. She came home jabbering away about the hilarious characters, and like wildfire I ordered The Midnight Gang on Amazon Prime. She devoured it with glee and that fire, that passion for reading was lit. She reads to me every night now, and we have a little book where she writes down words she doesn’t know. Raj even made it into one of my dreams the other night too.
As for her brother, at nearly seven we were less concerned. However he got his own launchpad last week during World Book Day. Author Josh Lacey came into his school and read from The Dragonsitter. A day later my arm was being yanked as we passed our local bookstore, and my son dragged me in to ask for the next two books in the series. I think seeing the author in person, hearing how and why his stories came to life was the connection my son needed. Plus the stories are about dragons – so what’s not to like?
Everyone tells you ‘it’ll come’, ‘they’ll get there..’ but it’s hard not to worry a little. I read everything I could get my hands by torchlight under my duvet for most of my childhood, and I am well aware it was my advanced reading and knowledge of literature that got me into secondary school. I’m just glad the fires are lit and all we need to do now is keep stoking them.
The big question is – what comes after Raj and the Dragon?