Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bye bye board books and picture books. The perils of an ever-evolving book blog (and daughter!) - A ReadItDaddy Editorial

I remember last summer at the Walker Books blogger event meeting lots of other lovely book blogging folk and, with them, pondering over a question that (sadly) will come to you all eventually if you write and blog about children's books.

Picture the scene. Your little ones aren't so little any more. Once, where their faces were all aglow at the prospect of reading through a picture book, or gnawing steadily on the corner of a well-loved board book, they're now reading on their own and they don't want any of that 'baby book' stuff.

CALAMITIES!

You, of course, still love picture books and are still as enthusiastic about them as you were the first day you hit the 'submit' button on your first blog post. But without a willing partner (or partners) in crime, does your book blog lose its relevance almost overnight?

Over the course of the last year, Charlotte has changed so much - not just physically and mentally but also in her tastes in just about everything.

Long gone are the pink princessy things (hooray!), put aside for more geeky and science-ey pursuits (which actually fills me with such pride and delight that I just can't tell you how great it is not to have to wade through a sea of taffeta doll's clothes just to make my way across the living room floor).

Gone also are the majority of picture books, either stashed away to eventually pass on to Charlotte's new little cousins, or in some rare cases, kept just because I can't bear to part with them myself.

You see, as tough as it sounds, few book bloggers out there can claim to live in a mansion filled with children's books from floor to ceiling in every room that they lovingly pore over and read regularly. Physically storing books is tougher than it sounds (and anyone who's had to lug 262 books - like we recently did - to donate to a local charity can vouch for how heavy those books are and how much room they take up!)

It's an extremely fortunate position to be in (we know exactly just how lucky we are, don't you worry!), but it also leaves us with a quandary. What happens as Madame Charlotte progresses onto middle grade - and largely chapter book - material for her reading choices. Suddenly our book cases are filled with smaller books (hooray!) but this also means that the way we review books has had to change too, and for the first time since the blog started up we've turned books down because there's no way we'd be able to do them justice, alas.

Nowadays, discussions over breakfast usually revolve around a new chapter book, so in some ways it's actually become easier to review books (though Charlotte always gets to them first, and I get to follow up with a blitz through myself just to get the gist of what she's talking about).

It is a funny feeling though, to look longingly at our copies of Barbapapa or Grandad Island, or any number of other utterly essential children's books that we can't bear to part with and realise that Charlotte now wants to read stuff by middle grade mainstays like Frank Cotterell Boyce and Harriet Whitehorn (Pearl! What a genius creation!) and so many, many other middle grade and early teen superstars

The whole transitional change-thing was further highlighted when one of the lovely PRs we've been in touch with regularly gently pointed out that we might want to come off their mailing lists as they predominantly deal with picture books and baby books.

My inner voice squealed with terror. We have loved their books so much in the past, how could we bear to let them go!

I'd really love to hear from other book bloggers who are going through this themselves and see if (like me) they're clinging on to reviewing picture books. We'll keep doing it, as long as Charlotte still cracks a wry grin at a particularly brilliant and original book (which, hooray, she still does!)


3 comments :

  1. We're lucky in the sense that our 3 range from 9 down to 4 years old, so we still get to enjoy the picture books. Our littlest loves being read to, our eldest is a reluctant reader and our daughter in the middle is on to chapter books but still clinging to picture books for bed time story.

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  2. We're not quite there yet and we still read a picture book every evening before bed, that's the time when my daughter pulls the old favourites out to enjoy (almost like a bedtime comfort blanket). There are still new picture books that cause great excitement when they come into the house and we often read them more than once in a sitting. As a bilingual child my daughter benefits from English picture books to help her develop her reading skills in English so we're good for a while yet I think. Also as a teacher I read picture books to little ones as well as to non native English speakers. There are a core of picture books that I have used in the classroom which I will always keep, that's my excuse for not getting rid of books 'I could use them in the classroom one day'.

    Hopefully the picture book phase will last at home for a while too as I still love reading them :)

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  3. My children are 14 and 8 so I sympathize! I too have a collection of over 1000 children's books. We used to also go to the library every two weeks to get the maximum 40 books allowed and devour those as well. My children's tastes in books has grown, of course. And though my youngest is enjoying the Stilton collection on his own now, I still read to him nightly (The Giver, L Lowry, at the moment).

    As a preschool teacher, though, I am lucky enough to still be able to enjoy the picture books. I am known as the teacher with the book bag - I read them 5-6 books a day. The favorites, over and over, and new ones that I discover along the way.

    I completely understand how much it pains the heart to let go of those little masterpieces. But just as sad and incredible as it is to let go of the baby and move on to toddler, the preschooler for the child, your books will "grow" with you and your family, and perhaps (or undoubtedly) so will your blog. There are readers of every level and you will find the audience who will appreciate Charlotte's and your book reviews.

    You will also find people like me who need book reviews for books for all ages. So I thank you and Charlotte for keeping the reviews of the past and for posting reviews of the present for, just like Charlotte, our kids are growing too.

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