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  • Kimberly Hinds

How to Read to Little Children

For those living in the “child zone” it is Book Week at schools around the world.

Basically what this means, in eastern suburbs Sydney (which is most definitely exactly like the rest of the world and a true indication of culture and tradition and human struggle) is that all the kids get to come to school dressed up as their favourite movie/TV/internet/Nintendo character under the guise that this movie or show may have been made into a book that we may have (but probably not) read.

At my son’s preschool, parents are invited to come and read their child’s favourite book to the class, which I am quite certain also doubles as a chance for the teachers to observe parenting skills (social failings) which can be attributed to your child’s “adventurous spirit” (also known as clinical fidgeting and lack of attention span).

Because kids learn from non fiction books for most of the school year, Book Week, rightly so, relates mostly to relishing in the delights of fiction. My 4 year old, however, does not like story books with their twee colourful illustrations and magical poetic tales (yawn) and instead only likes to be read non fiction. He is particularly fond of medical books on anatomy where he can freely admire people’s “bom boms” and see where Mr Poo comes from before heading off to Poo-land. The nice thing about this of course, is that you are never forced to make those silly reading voices or lift your voice or sound out exclamation marks. You merely have to point at the page and read out a few words in front of you. Even a bored mono tone voice will suffice (drunken slurring also fine).

This year I volunteered again to read at school so carefully selected (bought from bookstore 10 minutes beforehand) a crowd pleaser story book called The Pocket Dogs. Perched on a miniature stool, under the watchful eye of 3 teachers, I stumbled over the words and character names of this “favourite book” to the audience of tiny children. The kids sat with their mouths hanging open and heads cocked to the side, staring quizzically at me instead of the book. I was feeling more and more self conscious about the bizarre high pitched voices I had chosen to attribute to each and every single character in the book (and my there seemed to be a lot of them), while also becoming rather unnerved at my son who was standing on his head at the back of the room while simultaneously chewing vigorously on one of the school’s books. It was not clear if anyone was enjoying my performance – at any point.

I also vowed that next Book Week I would not come dressed sloppily in activewear with birds nest hair nor would I again appear in the school newsletter looking like this.


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