One of my Christmas gifts, from Dave in Thailand, was a book called George’s Secret Key to the Universe, by Lucy & Stephen Hawking. I read a chapter or two on the day and really enjoyed it, and I think I read some to Seb, but with one thing and another we didn’t read any more.
Well, some weeks later, with the occasional mention of the book here and there and a promise to read it, I sat down one evening after dinner, while the boys were still finishing their meal, and started reading the book. I only read the first chapter, and there were cries of ‘more, please Daddy, more’ from both of them. ‘One chapter a night’, I insisted, and firmly closed the book, marking the page.
Well, the following night, I finished my dinner, and Seb quickly jumped up, ran to fetch the book, and plonked it down in front of me. So I read another chapter.
And the next night another. And so on. It’s a brilliant book, and just like a tv series with cliffhangers at the end of each chapter that keep you begging for more. So sometimes, I’d allow myself to be persuaded to read two chapters, and very occasionally three, if it wasn’t too late and Seb didn’t have more homework or reading he needed to get done after dinner.
And over the course of two or three weeks I read the whole book, with all four of us sat around the dining table, while the boys finished their meal. It’s lovely. They’re generally very slow eaters, and I find it very stressful sitting there watching them not eat. So it’s nice to have something to do, and it’s a nice way to read to them, and I think maybe they eat a bit more this way, to be honest. They both loved it, Seb would inch his chair closer and closer so he could see the pictures in the book, and Nathan would have to be reminded to go around the table, not over it, because he’d want to come eat his pudding on my lap so he could see the book too. Nathan quite liked the factual sections, Seb was more focused on the story.
Well. All good things come to an end, so they say, and finally we finished the book! It’s got a great ending, we read the last three chapters in one go. I’m not going to give away any of the story, but it’s well worth reading. The book is aimed at children, perhaps a bit older than my two, but they did love it, and I’m sure they’ll go back and read it in a few years time. They’re both fascinated by space, and rockets, and planets, and computers anyway, so even if they didn’t understand everything, they still loved it, and were fascinated by the pictures of Saturn and his (her?) moons, Jupiter and the Red Spot, and, oh, so many other marvellous pictures. It’s got good guys, bad guys, and a pig in it. What more could you want?
But what to do now? We had so much fun reading the book. Nora and I agreed it’d be great to carry on with this, the boys love it so much, so we had a thought and decided they’d like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I think it might have helped that we watched the new version of the film, the one with Johnny Depp in it, that night. But Nora couldn’t find the copy in the school library that was supposed to be there, and that night there was nothing to read. Well, I dug out Winnie the Pooh and read the chapter where Kanga and Roo come to the Forest.
And the next day Nora went into the school again and this time came back with Matilda. And we’ve started reading that. One, maybe two chapters a night. It’s wonderful, I love Roald Dahl’s books, and the boys are spellbound. Now that Seb is reading so well, he’s reading the chapter titles ahead of time, flicking through the book to look at the pictures and getting excited about what’s coming up. And he’s listened to some of it as an audio book, so he already knows some of the story, so he’ll say ‘oh yeah, I know this one, it’s great’ or something similar like that.
When we’ve finished this one, we’ll probably read some more Roald Dahl. Maybe The BFG. I really want to read the Narnia books, but I think they’re both too young for them as yet. I wonder if they’ll be up for the Borrowers yet. And I might have a go at Truckers, Diggers and Wings, by Terry Pratchett, I think they’d love them. And when we head out to Colombia in the summer, we’ll make sure we pick up a decent collection of good, lengthy books in Spanish that Nora or I will read. Probably Nora.
And so, a tradition is born.