One of my fondest memories of my eldest daughter at age five involved ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ by C.S. Lewis. I used to balance the book on top of a very tall standard lamp to prevent her reading on before the next bedtime. One day, while I was safely in the kitchen, she clambered up a set of shelves to reach the book, gulped down the next two chapters and then, hearing my footsteps, hastily returned it to its perch on top of the lamp. I only rumbled her because she showed absolutely no surprise when, during that night’s reading, Eustace, the hero, turned into a dragon.
My two younger children are still immersed in picture books, although my son’s most recent favourite is ‘Dr. Seuss’s Green Eggs and Ham’, which quite apart from increasing his vocabulary, can also be used to persuade him to eat omelettes. I think we own the complete works of Sandra Boynton, which are so witty and well-written; my personal favourite is ‘Hippos Go Berserk’, but my husband and I both know ‘The Going to Bed Book’ off by heart and have often recited it in the dark to soothe a fractious toddler. The ‘Hairy Maclary’ and ‘Slinky Malinki’ books by Lynley Dodd are some of the most satisfying books to read aloud, with their rhymes building into funny stories. Finally, ‘The Snail and the Whale’ and ‘The Gruffalo’, both by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, have given literally hours of pleasure to the whole family.
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