Tonight we got in our pyjamas at half past six, because we were all tired, grouchy and bunged up. I decided we'd have a story chosen by each child as well as a chapter of Mr Gum, because I am giving and generous like that as a person and a mother. It had nothing to do with the fact that there is no way that they would actually go to sleep at that time, and I needed some time filled before I could justifiably sneak downstairs with my dressing gown on to drink tea and feel sorry for myself.
A chose Dear Greenpeace by Simon James. We haven't had this one for ages, and when she brought it in the room, I commented that I was sure it had been a present from her oldest friend. Sure enough there was an inscription at the front "To A on your 5th birthday" dated Feb 2009. I love it when people write an inscription in books, and A was really excited to know exactly how long she had had the book, and who had got it for her.
It's a lovely book, about a girl who finds a blue whale in her pond. The hardback version (which is the one we have) has Jolly Postman-esque letters from Emily to pull out of the envelopes and read. The kids took it in turns to get the letters out, and it really adds to the whole experience of reading this book. When I looked at the reviews for it on Amazon I noticed that a LOT of teachers had commented, saying that they use it as a springboard to looking at whales/nature/loneliness/letter-writing and all sorts of other things. The book is very easy to ask open-ended questions from: "Why do you think Emily can see the whale?" etc. However, it's also nice to read without asking questions, because there is an awful lot there in the book without producing further work based on it. The little sketches of family life in the pictures are brilliant - I love the one where Emily is writing to Greenpeace from the rug in her living room, a TV quiz on in the background.
I think now it has been rediscovered as bedtime reading, it will be chosen much more regularly. It's nice to be able to have that many books, that one can be forgotten about for a while and then read again, when the children are older and get more out of it than they might have done previously.