The Joys of Learning to Read - by Rosalie Warren

I had the pleasure of visiting my young granddaughter Daisy last weekend – and of seeing how much she has developed and changed since starting school in September. She can now write most of her letters, forming them with great care and precision, while reciting little verses to guide her. She can also put letters together to make simple words, and can spell out some unfamiliar words letter by letter and then read the whole word ‘F – O – G… fog!’ But what struck me most was the sheer joy of accomplishment on her face when she correctly read or spelled a word. And the way that she has started seeing words everywhere she goes – in shops, on signs – and her delight in recognising them and saying them out loud. Suddenly her familiar and well-thumbed books have become treasure troves, not just of pictures but of these wonderful new things called words – and wow, is she excited?

Daisy is lucky – she is part of a family where books are loved and the house is full of them. She’s been handling them and having them read to her since she was a babe in arms, and she has now chosen some of her baby books to give to her new little brother when he arrives sometime later this month. I’m sure she will enjoy being a big sister and reading aloud to him. Not all children are as fortunate, of course, where books are concerned, which is one reason that libraries are so vitally important and we need to fight to preserve them. Schools do a great job too, and I’m especially impressed by the care and guidance Daisy is clearly being given by her teachers – and the way learning to read is made to be such fun these days.
The fun of learning to read!
Back in the distant 1950s, I remember loving my ever-growing collection of Enid Blyton’s Noddy books, and trying to read the words myself when my parents were not available to read to me. I was several months older than Daisy when I started school, and family lore has it that I was already reading for myself. I think I’ve said on here before that I remember getting very cross when I was given simple, repetitive, Janet and John type books to read instead of the more interesting ones I was already getting from the library. But I do remember the pleasure of reading, right through my childhood, from Noddy to Malory Towers, Just William and the Jill pony books by Ruby Ferguson, which were hilariously funny as well as being full of horsey stuff (I was a very keen rider until I actually got on a horse – less so after that). 

Daisy’s current favourites include Oi Frog and its sequels, the latest of which is Oi Duck-Billed Platypus, by Kes Gray and Jim Field. These have the advantage of being witty and fun (at least on the first 29 readings) for adults too. 

She also loves the oeuvre of Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, especially Room on the Broom, Stick Man and The Scarecrows' Wedding – and a wonderful adventure called Double Dragons, written and signed inside by its author, my dear friend Enid Richemont. (Plug – if you have young relatives, or even if you don’t, order a copy – you will love it.)

I’m looking forward to introducing Daisy, when she’s a bit older, to the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. These were much loved by my daughter (Daisy’s Auntie Em) in her younger days and I can’t wait to see if Daisy enjoys them as much.

The book I wrote and Auntie Em illustrated - just for Daisy

We also had fun playing with some Apps, which involved Daisy very patiently showing me what to do. ‘No, Nana, not like that – you have to drag it into the square!’ And Daisy, egged on by Daddy, found the way I type texts on my phone hilarious. Apparently I punch the letters with my forefinger with a kind of stabbing motion that Daisy, the little monkey, soon had off to a T – instead of neatly holding the phone in one hand and tapping with the same thumb, which I find impossible to do. Ah well. I suppose I should graciously accept my role as an oldie (at least I didn’t vote for you-know-what).

So here’s to books for all ages – and especially to those that can be enjoyed at any age – and to those who write them. And to children and their amazing capacity to learn to talk, read and write, and to those special ones who can’t do these things but find their own ways to communicate. All of them are wonderful!

Happy reading and writing, young and old

Follow me on Twitter @Ros_Warren


Umberto Tosi said…
Lovely, loving post, Rosalie. It reminds me how I used to read to my daughters when they were kids, thinking that it would be good for their development. It most likely was. They love to read. But more than that, I didn't realize at the time that these bedtime readings would become treasured memories of times soon past.
Rosalie Warren said…
So true, Umberto. Some of my happiest memories are of reading to my own children.
Griselda Heppel said…
Lots of ideas for books for my 2 1/2 year-old grand-daughter, thank you! It is such fun being back at that stage again. And her mother adored Ramona, another one to look forward to. Daisy sounds a splendid bookworm in the making, hurrah!

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