Sharing stories with children

Reading aloud to children was one of my greatest joys as a teacher, a parent and now as a grandparent. So much occurs between you and a child when you share a story…together you develop a bond, you play with language, you share and explore emotions, you travel together to places familiar and unknown.

One of my favourite authors in Alison Lester. Alison is an Australian author and illustrator. I found her when my first child was very small and was delighted to see her name in a children’s story. Beginning with Clive eats alligators, Alison created a series* about a group of children who share their unique interests, likes, dislikes and day-to-day lives. Just ordinary children discovering the world and themselves. What’s not to love!

It struck me that my Rosie and storybook Rosie were very similar… both liked to be outdoors, both lived on a farm, loved horses and eventually, both got a baby sister and a pony. Life imitating art or the other way around? We never found out in what storybook Rosie’s baby sister was named, but we did decide to call her Matilda every time we read When Frank was four once real Rosie’s baby named Matilda had arrived. (I always had my fingers crossed that a Matilda would become part of one of Alison’s stories….). Side note: while storybook Rosie brought her pony into the kitchen, ours was not invited inside but it did live in our garden.

These stories are a beautiful example of inclusion, about being who you are and being OK with that.
Quite a few years ago now, I worked with a group of preschoolers who were also in love with this series of books (real Rosie donated her beloved copies to these children). We made our own version, with each of the children illustrating their own words and thoughts. At the time I reached out to Alison to share how she had inspired both my daughter and these children and explained to her that my Rosie thought she was the Rosie in the story and how this had been a very special time in her life…Alison even responded telling me that storybook Rosie was in fact based on her and her early life.

Fast forward to 2022. Rosie and Tilly are now grown-ups and I am a new grandma to baby Ziggy. A new generation and it’s never too early to start……here he is at 9 days old!

What are your favourite stories? Do you have a favourite author? Tell us your story about reading to children.

*The stories in the series referred to are:
Rosie sips spiders       Tessa snaps snakes       Celeste sails to Spain         When Frank was four
Clive eats alligators        Ernie dances to the digeridoo.

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