Why every kid needs a joke book

indexI’ve never been much of a fan of the common gag, preferring observational comedy, but as a child, getting to grips with a good old-fashioned joke is a rite of passage.

For Toby’s fifth birthday he was given a copy of Francesca Simon’s Horrid Henry’s Jolly Joke book. He liked the idea of a joke but he didn’t yet have the language skills to understand why they were funny.

Fast forward two years and he’s chosen to revisit this book, but this time he understands the humour and can repeat the jokes with confidence. It’s testament to how his language skills have developed. Plus, it’s lovely to see him finding pleasure in a bit of old-fashioned comedy. Continue reading

What I learned this Easter weekend

Sometimes a bank holiday weekend is the perfect tonic for taking stock of all that is good in your life and carving out some quality family time. With Good Friday and Easter Monday, creating cause to pause from the daily grind this year, I was determined to make sure we weren’t going to fritter this precious time on Minecraft marathons and chocolate-eating fests so instead made sure we had some plans to get out and about and explore.

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It’s been lovely spending time together and it’s also been an opportunity to remind myself of a few things I’ve come to learn about family life. Here’s what I learned this Easter weekend. Continue reading

Diary of a Minecraft prisoner

8:00am

You wake up elated because it is Sunday and you’ve given yourself an extra 90 minutes sleep. Result. The house is still so you get up to enjoy some peace and the freedom to catch a bit of BBC news before the TV is no longer under your control.

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8:15am

You’re sitting comfortably on the sofa with a cup of tea and a slice of toast. You’re flicking channels because it’s not BBC news that’s on but Match of the Day. The sunshine is peeking through the curtains and you’re full of optimism. The living room door opens and the peace is disturbed but you’re happy to see his cute little smiling face and then those immortal words are uttered:

“Mummy can I play Minecraft?”

Continue reading

How to help a reluctant reader

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally had to admit that I live with a reluctant reader. The signs have always been there and have included fiddling with Nerf guns during reading homework, taking excessively long pauses during reading homework, opting to watch Stampy videos instead of bedtime stories, and choosing to dress as a Clone Trooper from Star Wars for World Book Day.

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It’s his teachers I feel most sorry for. Many a parent evening discussion has revolved around eager teachers desperately attempting to find out his interests in order to engage him with books. It’s not for lack of trying on their part or mine that Toby doesn’t really want to read. He just doesn’t. Continue reading

Costume ideas for World Book Day

WBD2016_blue_rightdownWorld Book Day gets bigger every year. On the one hand this is excellent news. Anything that gets people, and especially kids, talking about and sharing books is fantastic. However, the dressing up thing can be a bit of a drag for time-poor, unimaginative parents with stubborn children.

This year, Toby’s school is fully embracing the fancy dress theme, encouraging all children to dress as their favourite character from their favourite book AND bring in a copy of the book too (so that should put a stop to all the Batmans and Supermans that regularly turn out).

Regular readers of this blog (that’ll be the two of you then) will realise that we are no strangers to a book in our house. Toby could have picked from a vast selection of characters from a wide range of books. So what was his response to the brief? Continue reading

My sort-of favourite books

As part of the office banter on a free-spirited Friday afternoon a new colleague started asking everyone what their favourite book is.

I couldn’t answer. I gave a few titles that jumped to the forefront of my mind under duress in a lukewarm attempt to join in but I didn’t feel my answer was all that sincere.

You see this type of question can be unconsciously teasing out whether you might be someone’s “type of person”. When someone asks a question like that it can often be a shorthand way to identify your educational or intelligence level, your social class, or your cultural parameters. Continue reading