Saturday, 12 January 2013

#readitmummiesanddaddies2013 Reading Out Loud IS Scary, but that's OK!

When I started the ball rolling on the #readitmummiesanddaddies2013 campaign to get more parents reading to their children, I'd already given some thought to what I was actually asking of parents. The image at the top of this post is fairly scary (yipes, can you imagine Charles Laughton reading you a bedtime story? I think I'd be pretty scared) and as highlighted absolutely perfectly by Anne-Marie over at Child Led Chaos, not everyone likes reading aloud and of course not all children want to be read to. 

After a fairly hectic week but buoyed by the utter brilliance and sheer enthusiasm of folk who've already joined our campaign, or have been really positive about it, I am still thinking about that post and in some ways I'm thinking that it is a major piece of a fairly large and complex puzzle that sums up a lot of parents' feelings on child literacy and (just as important) reading for pleasure. 

I suffer from chronic shyness. Ever wonder why I'm so evasive when it comes to meeting folk? Ever wonder why if you actually HAVE met me (the one or two of you that have) why I turn into a babbling wreck and mumble a lot? Chronic shyness is also a part of that puzzle and though I've tried many ways and methods to conquer it in the past, basically it comes back again and again. 

Pretty much any parent will tell you that having their kids changed everything. It most certainly did for me, not just making me feel more grown up than anything I'd ever done but also making me realise the responsibility and the 'duty of care' that comes with being a daddy. Those things are pretty scary, just like reading aloud, and those things have driven me on to do things I would never have done in a million years if my lovely wife and I had never had children. 

Reading aloud to Charlotte gives me the golden opportunity of a captive audience who won't judge me if I'm completely hopeless at something (and of course it lets me do really silly things I like doing like using daft voices, putting actions to words and generally mucking about like the big kid I still am at heart). Reading the blog I hope I haven't led you to believe I'm some sort of children's book-reading genius who can do this stuff as easily as falling off a log because that's really not true.

And yet...

There's the passion thing. I am passionate about everything I do (yep, even my boring everyday full time job) and I'm extremely passionate about the value of books and how they can change lives. I'm passionate about trying to get across (sometimes rather clumsily, admittedly) the feeling you get when a child's imagination and inspiration are unleashed because of a book or because of discussions and chat that's been stimulated by a book. That's why I'm aiming to try and beat my shyness into submission once again and at least try to attempt to do this in public. That is a scary thought. In fact that is the sort of scary thought that keeps me awake at night. Oh yes. 

I definitely do not want to come across as preachy in this campaign and I want to massively emphasise that this is not Read It Daddy's campaign, this is something that belongs to everyone who shares the same belief that children from the very earliest age can benefit from a love of books and particularly when that love is shared with their family and friends. I also do want to make sure that it's understood that I am under no illusion that any of the campaign's pledge points are magically easy to achieve. 

To coin a popular phrase, "Bear with! Bear with!" because I'm squeezing this stuff in between full time work and a hectic home life. If I get things wrong, if I clumsily tread on toes or if I appear completely green about all this (which I really am), then it's purely because I'm in awe of you folk - you all make the bookworld what it is and if I can do even the tiniest bit to get more folk to join us all, then I'll do my level best!