Sarah Baker, a parent, tells the story of her son Freddie as he develops as a reader.
We started reading to our baby when I was about 7 months pregnant. Partly as a bonding exercise (I’d read a piece on how babies can recognise their mum and dad’s voices) and partly because we’d already been given some lovely books and I wanted to revisit some of my childhood favourites.
Now he’s five months and we’ve been reading to Freddie ever since. It’s his dad’s turn at night for the last story of the day, usually a quiet one as part of his bedtime routine, but once morning comes around, it’s my turn and that’s when the activities start.
One of our favourites is Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s bright, the pictures are wonderful and the little holes are brilliant for tiny fingers to poke through and help turn the pages or pretend to be a caterpillar. At five months, Freddie is more of a listener than a reader, but in time we’ll get a little more interactive and try some of the brilliant suggestions on the Love My Books website.
As a writer for children and a voracious reader, I’m keen to encourage Freddie’s early love of books (whether listening to them or biting them) and the Love My Books website is a brilliant resource of both fun and educational activities to support that. They also have lots of book suggestions, some of which we didn’t know, so we’ve already ordered more. I foresee very happy times ahead (and not just for me!)
I look forward to working through the age group books and activities with Love My Books and our very own hungry caterpillar.
Freddie’s already developing a real love for his favourites.
A few weeks ago, Freddie began crawling. He went from one side of the living room to the other, and right up to the bookshelves. There he began to pull out a few books before turning to me with a smile. I could not have been more proud. Now this has become part of our daily routine, and storytime by the bookshelves is as much fun for him as it is for his mum and dad.
Now he’s a little older, we’ve started including some of the activities Love My Books suggest on their website. We’ll often read one book a second time or point out little picture details as we go. We talk about the book and, when it comes to one of his new favourites, Orange, Pear, Apple, Bear by Emily Gravett, we’ve used real pieces of fruit to tell the story (which he found delicious).
We continue to find that the Love My Books website is a brilliant resource of both fun and educational activities. They also have lots of book suggestions, which would make brilliant Christmas presents!
Freddie age 1 Year
Freddie turned one this month and his love of books is still going strong. He got quite a lot of book presents (the best kind of presents) and we read one or two, sometimes more each day. He’s now learned to turn the pages, though not necessarily at the right time, which often makes for interesting storytelling.
Freddie definitely has his favourites. These are the rhyming stories, the ones we can do actions to, the ones where I voice the characters, the ones where he can really join in. Reading books has become an interactive activity for us and it’s a source of endless giggles when I do the singing bits or we fly around the house, making room on our very own broom. (Room on the Broom LINK)
Two books we’ve really enjoyed lately are:
Stomp, Chomp, Big Roars! Here Come the Dinosaurs! by Kaye Umansky and Nick Sharratt
We’re big dinosaur fans in this house and the stomping and chomping is always fun. Freddie’s also recently learned to roar so I’m encouraging that at every opportunity.
This is a very funny book, which makes Freddie (and me) laugh every time we shout ‘Train!’ whether we’re reading or playing with our own little train set (carriages currently filled with toy animals, a car and what looks like a very hipster farmer). We’re planning a train trip of our own soon to see a friend in Edinburgh and I’m expecting a few shouts of ‘Train!’ as we travel. Sorry about that everyone…
Freddie age 2 years
Freddie is 2 years old and his love of books grows with him. We have story time every day, usually after breakfast, and always before bed. Reading is something we do together. Freddie’s clear about which stories he likes and now refers to them by their title. He’s also started reciting bits of his favourites back to me during the day, so we both seem to be learning them off by heart.
Freddie turns the pages so he’s in charge of how fast or slow we read. We’ve begun to pause a little, taking time to talk about ‘what’s going to happen next,’ using the space to discuss the fox following Rosie. We count the items The Very Hungry Caterpillar eats and Freddie names them. As these are favourite books, we read them over and over, and I often suggest to Freddie that he read them to me and he really enjoys telling me his version of what’s going on. He’s also become very interested in the words themselves, asking me what a particular word ‘says’ and then repeating it. It’s astonishing and magical to watch.
Freddie’s dinosaur adventures
Author and parent Sarah Baker continues her son Freddie’s reading journey. Freddie is now 3 and Dinosaur stories are a big hit. This is what Sarah has to say:
‘We love dinosaurs and we love dinosaur books. We currently have four favourites, which we read again and again, and they inspire a lot of play too.’
Dinosaur Roar! by Paul Stickland & Henrietta Stickland
Published in association with the Natural History Museum (one of our favourite places to hang out), dinosaurs of every shape, size and colour feature in this fantastic picture book. We take it in turns to do our very own dinosaur squeak or roar and usually end up with a good stomp around the house…
…which leads me to Stomp, Chomp, Big Roars! Here Come the Dinosaurs! By Kaye Umanksy & Nick Sharratt. With its bright illustrations and fantastic rhyming story, it’s perfect for stomping, chomping toddlers. We name the dinosaurs, talk about their different shapes, sizes and colours, and make our very own T-Rex stomp and roar about (when he’s not busy reading).
Dinosaurs and all that rubbish by Michael Foreman is a classic tale that introduces the concept of the environment, what we do with our rubbish and saving the planet. We talk a lot about where water comes from, where rubbish goes, for example. Freddie enjoys sorting the recycling (along with T-Rex), switches off lights whenever they’re on “to save energy, Mummy,” and loves helping to plant seeds in the garden and water the plants we’re growing.
If I Had a Dinosaur by Alex Barrow & Gabby Dawnay is a recent addition to our collection and we love it. Imagine having a dinosaur?! It’s such a fun story that inspires us to talk about what we’d do with a dinosaur in our house. Would he fit into the kitchen? Where would he sleep? What would he eat? The dinosaur poo page always gets a big laugh and imagining what our dinosaur would look like has inspired Freddie to draw her (it’s a her, she’s called ‘Marie’)
Here are some other Dinosaur books we love:
T-Veg (the story of a carrot crunching dinosaur) by Smriti Prasadam-Halls & Katherina Manolessou, Ten Terrible Dinosaurs by Paul Stickland, Dinosaur Beach by Frann Preston-Gannon, Dino Diggers Digger Disaster by Rose Impey & Chris Chatterton and Toot Goes to Dinosaurland by Catherine and Laurence Anholt. Happy Reading!
Sarah Baker is a children’s author. Her novel for 8-12 year olds, Through the Mirror Door, is available now.