Quite a few years ago now, I had the pleasure of watching a very interesting and inspiring seminar called 'The Art of Being Brilliant', delivered by Andy Cope. If you haven't ever heard of his work, I suggest you check it out. It's all very positive and motivational! A few things in particular stood out for me, and I still think about them now.
One of the things he talked about how on an evening, he would rush putting his children to bed; because for him, it was just one more of those things you HAVE to do before you can finally fully relax and enjoy your grown up peaceful time. Which I think we can all empathise with and agree with, we have all done that.
We are probably all guilty of this.
Of rushing through stories, of refusing to read 'just one more page or one more chapter'. Because you NEED that peace. You don't do it on purpose, it isn't a conscious thing. Maybe you had a long and tiring day, and you have things to do...
However, Mr. Cope then realised, one day, that from his children's point of view, that bedtime routine was the complete and utter opposite. To them, it was a time to get special, one-on-one time with their Daddy, who they didn't always get to see much of during the day.
I often think about that anecdote, about not rushing, not wasting that precious time before bed, because that is last time of THAT day you have left, and it isn't ever coming back again.
Some days, my children give me extra long hugs, because they are the last hugs I will get that day. On our birthday eves, we always have extra long hugs, as the last hugs of [insert age here]. And then extra big ones on the birthday as they are the first of those year. And sometimes it breaks my heart, because one day, they aren't going to want to hug me at all.
At 11 and 8, they already don't really want bedtime stories anymore. That habit did get a bit broken after the twins were born because they were just that high maintenance, bedtime routines got a little bit pushed to the side. The big ones did spend plenty o time reading to them at bedtime though. So we had big family bedtime stories for a while. Which was glorious.
And we never really got back in the habit. Slightly later bedtimes, coupled with the fact that they like to do their own thing on a bedtime, read a book themselves, or play Lego (or sometimes on laptops as a treat), meant that bedtime time has sort of gone. And I do miss it,
But linking it back to those times when I did get to read bedtime stories, sometimes I would start to rush, and then I would think, 'no'. I will enjoy this. The chores, the cleaning. They can wait. Because choosing to spend time with your little ones is one of the most important things. Especially when that time is spent reading. Reading with your children is SO important. And something I am SO passionate about doing. Some children do not get that advantage at all. Some don't have any special bedtime routine. Some children may have never had a bedtime story, or a story read to them by a parent or carer, ever. And that does sadden me. I love reading out loud. I love seeing the reactions, or hearing them join in. It's special.
All children should be read to. All children should have access to books. All children should be allowed to listen - and to look at - the wonders of books. Picture books are one of the best introductions to books. That combination of words and pictures is what sparks imagination, curiosity, starting a love of literature, words and art from a young age.
I want children to love books and to love reading. Strike that, I want EVERYONE, children and adults, to learn to love books and reading. Bedtimes, story times, they should be filled with the joys of discovering new books, of sharing stories, no matter your age. You are never too old or young to enjoy sharing a story. On that note, we have plans to introduce donations to the charity Book Trust onto the website in the future. Book Trust are a charity who focus on getting children to read; sharing books, resources and advice to millions of families each year. And we want to get involved in that. Because when it comes down to it, sharing stories is SO important, so we want to help support that.
Heck, we have a few things we want to get happening with Little Bird Library, but all in due course and all will be revealed when we get ourselves a little more organised...