Sometimes, on Radio 4 or BBC2, I catch a programme in which a group of literary types discuss books. Dissect plots and scrutinize characters. Often Mariella Frostup chairs; clever, witty, opinionated. She is Ms Book.
For one evening only, I styled myself on Mariella Frostrup. Imagine me, if you will, immaculately sartorial in pale hues. Smart bob. Confident air. Husky tones. My son becomes a small academic type drafted from a nearly educational institution.
“Hello, today I will be finding out my son’s top 5 books and hearing his youthful opinion on each”.
Beginning with Emily Brown and the Thing by the award-winning Cressida Cowell and Neal Layton.. I intone Frostrupesque.
My son replies.
“I like the Thing. I like it when she is kind to the Thing, even though she’s had enough of the Thing asking her to do things”.
Terribly Mariella I say; “Reflects the tensions of the parent child relationship”.
“Umm” he agrees, picking up the next book.
“We move on to the timeless Shirley Hughes, Alfie and the Big Boys”.
“I like Bernard and Alfie”.
“It’s complicated. Bernard is, after all, often naughty”. Suggests my Mariella.
“But Alfie likes him and he is good”.
“I like Ian Barger being the big old dragon. I felt sad for Ian when he cried for his mum”.
“A character to evoke empathy in any reader”
“Harry and the Dinosaurs say Raahh! by Ian Whybrow and Adrian Reynolds. What appeals to you about this book?”
“Really funny, like when the dinosaurs go Raahh and spits the drink”.
“Obviously, behaviour we cannot condone at the dentists”. Mariella chuckles.
“We finish with two books by Child’s Laureate Julia Donaldson, illustrated and perfectly complimented by the talented Alex Scheffler.
First Up: The Gruffalo Child”.
“Better than the Gruffalo because it’s got the Gruffalo and the Gruffalo’s child. I like that the mouse tricks the Gruffalo’s child”
“Dual themes to both listen to our parents and reminding us that the small person can still triumph in the face of adversity” adds Mariella.
My son shifts awkwardly; “You are being weird”.
Mariella confidently continues: “Stick Man”
“Stick Man is lovely and nice. It’s got Santa Claus and baby stick people”.
Mariella sums up: “Warm characters we want to meet. Of course, who 5 and under doesn’t love Santa Claus?”
Smooths her smart slacks and heads off the Groucho Club. “Oh hang on! Bath-time?”
Gives up channelling the Frostrup.
Stories and reading encourage imagination, prompt thought, develop understanding. Loving stories and taking the next step to reading opens up so much more than characters and plots, it provides a gateway to a world of information, independence, opportunities.
• Many poor children in the UK today start school already behind their better-off peers – through no fault of their own.
• Last year, 1 in 4 poor children left primary school without basic skills in reading and writing.
• The years between 4 and 7 are a crucial opportunity for children who started behind to catch up. Reading is one of the keys to unlocking a child’s potential.
• If they don’t get the help they need before they leave primary school, another generation of children will face lifelong penalties for being born poor. No child should be left behind.
are today launching a campaign to improve the reading of primary aged from poor backgrounds who are struggling. Joining forces with the Beanstock charity; Over the next 4 years, Save the Children will recruit some 20,000 ‘change makers’. Individuals who will collectively, campaign to get political commitment to ensure children leave primary education with reading skills. Volunteer to work with children in their journey to being readers. To fundraise to expand the programme in order to reach as many children as possible.
Save the Children are building a movement of supporters to change the story for children in the UK and are asking the public to sign-up to become ‘change makers’ and to help reach as many children as possible and give them a brighter future and better life chances.
Find out more here at Save the Children Change Makers.
Become part of the story by tweeting, sharing and following:
#EducationMatters. @savechildrenUK. @saveUKNews.