It hangs above a very old bookcase which was actually salvaged from the Science lab of a school which was being knocked down.
It is jam packed with books. It is not aesthetically pleasing. It is not neat and tidy.
It’s part of the room, part of our lives and filled with stories.
We have another equally jammed bookcase in the front room where fiction and autobiographies, atlases and picture books all stand side by side. Some are looked at frequently, others haven’t been read for years, none can we bear to part with.
The children’s rooms all have shelves of books. Some read over a hundred times. Some they know off by heart. Some from when they were much younger. All loved.
In our room, we have books by the bedside which we try to find time to read in between everything else that is life with a young family. Trying to get to the end of a chapter before our eyes close at the end of a busy day.
We have piles of newspapers that I long to chuck out, books in the bathroom to read on the loo, even waterproof picture books for the baby when he is in the bath.
In our kitchen – a shelf full of beautiful recipe books with corners turned down and notes written on and ingredients spilled.
And this magnificent poster from www.wearedorothy.com hangs next to our dining table.
It’s safe to say that reading features heavily in our lives and the children are pretty much surrounded by it. This hasn’t been deliberate – it’s just what we love, and we want them to love it too. (It is worth noting that there are also piles of vinyl, hundreds of CDs, and fantastic artwork connected to our favourite bands – it’s not all books!)
We have just recently got home from Hay Festival – this literary event takes place each May half term and is something we all enjoy going to. It is about authors but also about journalists, and illustrators, and interviews, and workshops. Like any family holiday it’s about ice cream and late nights, family fun and pub gardens, outdoor games and barbecues, but it is also about books.
So why do we think reading is so important?
Well we are both teachers – there is no escaping the fact that reading – and being read to – supports learning and development.
But it is more than that.
It’s the hook of a good book that you can’t put down. The comfort of a story that you listen to whilst dozing off, the creativity of a picture book where you can make up your own words. The colours and sights and sounds that you want them to imagine as they lift off the page and into their minds. Losing yourself in another world for half an hour in the bath (occasionally).
The worlds they make, the languages they create, the imaginations that run wild – all from reading and being read to. The facts they learn as their eyes grow wide, non-fiction being more astounding than the made up bed time stories they love.
We read every night with our children. Sometimes now they read with each other and we feel a bit left out. They make up their own stories – which often make no sense at all, and they draw their characters and scenes to go with them. We keep them.
Our Kids Social is built upon a desire to support family togetherness and creativity. It therefore follows that we have story telling as part of our larger events and embrace the joy this brings to children and adults alike.
To enable families to enjoy stories together. To watch them become a part of the narrative. To urge them to forget themselves. To see their worlds expand. To envelope yourself and your children and your community in an imaginary wonderland. It is a gift.
Storytelling is one of the most favoured and requested parts of our socials.
It’s easy to understand why.
The featured title image is of Professor Jigget, a regular storyteller at the OKS events.
Our Kids Social (OKS) was set up and is run by Alice, Hannah and Jo who are pioneers of unique family events providing ‘a knees up with your nippers’ across the North West’s most iconic venues such as Manchester Monastery, The Refuge, Victoria Baths, The Atkinson and Islington Mill. With young families themselves and a shared love for fab music, creativity and good old family fun, OKS was born and now spans 4 unique branches.
Visit the Our Kids Social website for event details and tickets.