As a mother of two boys, some stats that pinged into my inbox today really struck a chord. In the UK, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) the largest disparity in gender performance in schools is reading. 29% of parents admitted to reading more to their daughters than their sons and 39% of fathers ‘never or rarely’ read to their children. Reasons given in the 900-strong survey of parents with children age 4-12 were that boys favoured screen-time over reading – yet the Department for Education and Skills scholastic report asserted that 83% of children love being read aloud to. Does this ring true in your house?
We have always done the bath, book, bed routine with both boys – or the ‘power hour’ as it’s known in our house. The 20mo, until a few months ago, had never been that interested in books, or being read to. He simply couldn’t stay still long enough for even the shortest of tales. However, I’ve noticed he’s started bringing me books during the day and curling up next to me expectedly which is pretty much the Cutest. Thing. Ever. We are reading A LOT of ‘Dear Zoo’ (so much so we have a ‘travel version’ too). Anything Thomas the Tank Engine related and of course, the universally loved by toddlers – ‘That’s not my…’ series.
The 5 year old on the other hand has ALWAYS been a bookworm. He is at his happiest curled up in bed with a book (ME TOO!). Fact books are a MASSIVE winner at the moment – sharks, volcanoes, space – he literally cannot read enough. This Usborne ‘General Knowledge’ flap-book is a-mazing. We still read aloud to him, but more and more, he is wanting to read by himself. He is rediscovering all the 100s of Julia Donaldson and Giles Andreae picture books under his own steam. As well as his current favourite: ‘Supertato’ (if you haven’t read them, do).
Watching him read for pleasure, off his own back and often to his brother (SWEET!) is so, so rewarding. Like all the hours spent at the library and reading aloud to him over the years have paid off.
That said, we are struggling at the moment to find bedtime stories for that 5-7 age range. I think he’s too young (and sensitive) for most Roald Dahl (we have done Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda) and Harry Potter, but too old for his well-thumbed library of picture books. Horrid Henry and Dirty Bertie have been winners and we’re just discovering Dick King Smith and a few Enid Blyton. Any other suggestions?