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Posts Tagged ‘reading’

We’ve had many favourite kids’ bibles over the years in the Vicarage (and previously in the Curatage, the Ordinandage and the Engineerage). Top reads have included The Jesus Storybook Bible, the Big Picture Story Bible, the Praise Bible (sourced in a secondhand shop) and (when they were very little) The God Loves Me Bible. For a while the Engineer was very keen on the Veggietales Bible Storybook, and whilst I wouldn’t recommend it for teaching kids great doctrine or anything, his enjoyment more than made up for the struggles we had with reading about Dave and the Giant Pickle repeatedly. I think he learnt to read his first words from that book. As I recall, they were ‘God’ (yay!) and ‘Dave’ (not such a yay for that one).

Our kids love variety so we are always hunting for the newest best bible. All our kids can read a ‘proper’ bible now and the Engineer had been using an International Children’s Bible and the excellent XTB bible reading notes. He’d just finished a set of notes when I went on my conference the other week, where there was a hard-to-resist bookstall where they were selling The Gospel Story Bible.

I had a look through and decided that the 7yo Engineer might enjoy reading through this for a change from his bible notes. The way in which the bible stories are told pointing to Christ are so helpful. And each story comes with a few questions to help the child clarify what they’ve read and learnt. And this evening the Engineer skipped into the kitchen just before bedtime and told me he’d read three bible stories all by himself. He was so excited to communicate all that he’d learnt about the plagues and the Passover.

That’s a winner of a bible for me. Which bible do your kids read or have read to them? Do you have a family favourite?

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Kids find it hard to sit still at the best of times, but as I read with children at our church school I’ve noticed a few who just can’t keep themselves in a single place when they’re reading aloud, let alone doing it whilst listening to others read or reading to themselves. I liked this illustration of the phenomenon I found recently:[HT: Abraham Piper]

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I know I know, Lent began yesterday. But just in case you’ve meant to start something and forgot. Or maybe you’d just like to try something extremely worthwhile without worrying about exactly when you begin or end: the Bible Society have got a fantastic idea – wouldn’t it be great to listen to the whole of the New Testament? It will only take 28 minutes a day if you listen every day for the 40 days of Lent. They have a special new recording of the CEV, from Riding Lights theatre company. They also have a Welsh language version available. There’s also a free CD pack available. The Bible Society are obviously keen that we would contribute towards their work if we benefit from this project, but the audio downloads are free on the website.

Here in the Vicarage, we’re trying to listen to a chapter (or two) of the bible at teatime this Lent – we’ve been playing the audio on Biblegateway.com on the kitchen computer. We’ve been impressed by how quiet the kids are as we listen. Early days yet, tho’. But we have found the audio bible a good way to nourish ourselves with larger chunks of scripture.

If you have a tablet, or a smartphone, you can do the same thing using the free Daily Bible app.

So I think it’s worth a listen. Even if I don’t manage the whole New Testament in exactly 40 days, I’ll have taken in more scripture than usual, and that’s only going to be a help since

… faith comes through hearing…

Romans 10v17

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My three kids are all pretty good readers. The Queen, who’s ten, chomps through literature at a terrifying rate and the Joker (aged nine) loves poems and joke books. The Engineer is seven now and just at that tricky reading stage between picture books and proper story books with chapters. Our series of choice at this stage of reading is by Chris Riddell and begins with Ottoline and the Yellow Cat.

Ottoline is a little girl who lives in an apartment with Mr Munroe whilst her explorer parents travel around the world. Mr Munroe is a creature who comes from a bog in Norway and is covered in long hair. Ottoline likes to solve mysteries and she and Mr Munroe do this successfully in the first book and continue their adventures in Ottoline Goes to School and Ottoline at Sea.

The hardback books are beautifully produced and have a quirky retro style. The black and white illustrations (which have single colour tints) are exquisite. It was the first book that the Queen ever desparately wanted to read again as soon as she’d finished it. The Joker read them over and over, and now the Engineer loves them too. The vocabulary is interesting and includes stretching words like ‘distractedly’, ‘llamas’ and ‘knickerbockers’ (to give a few examples from Ottoline at Sea).

The Engineer has now decided that he wants to attend World Book Day (1st March, when you dress up as a literary character for school) as Mr Munroe. So I am off to Birmingham’s Rag Market on Friday to purchase fake fur. You don’t seem to be able to get a readymade Mr Munroe costume anywhere, curiously enough.

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The Reading Rule

Last month the Vicar and I spent some Nectar points on a garden swing. Sitting on it is incredibly relaxing but we had to make some rules about usage by children as we anticipated that over-vigorous swinging might ensue.

So the rule is:

You can only sit on the swing seat IF YOU ARE READING

This is working very well. I occasionally break the rule myself, but as it’s my rule I think that’s okay. Sometimes I just sit there with the Vicar or a friend and talk. But today the kids were on the swing, obeying the rule, which I found very heartening:

Reading (from L to R) Dr Who, Roald Dahl and Harry Potter

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In my quest for suitable books for the young people on our Pathfinder venture this summer, I picked up School Survival by Catherine and Louise House. Louise is Catherine’s school age daughter and some of this book is based on the experiences she had when she moved school. And although it’s called School Survival, it’s particularly about friendship and working that through, with a single chapter about starting in a new school. It is very suitable for the Pathfinder age group (11-14) as it covers many issues faced as young people move on to secondary school.

The book is a combination of stories, quizzes, activities and bible study and is split into 14 chapters, including ones on making friends, bullying, gossip, prayer and church. It might be suitable for a Year Six primary school leaver to study over the summer holidays, or for family devotions or even as an outline for a church Pathfinder group to study over a few weeks (the chapters are uneven in size, so some could be combined). I’ll be ordering a few copies for our camp bookstall.

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Last week my two younger kids were in bed, but they were having trouble getting to sleep. That was mainly because some of their classmates were still playing loudly in the street below our house. The youngest of the kids still playing out was eight. And it was 8.30pm, so I thought it probably appropriate that they go home and possibly even consider going to bed themselves.

When I proposed this to them, they were incredulous. They didn’t want to go to sleep yet. So I suggested that perhaps they could get into their pajamas and read a book before bedtime. The eight year old then emphatically told me:

Books are for BABIES!

A report from the National Literacy Trust has been in the news this week, talking about how book ownership is linked to educational attainment. We have lots of work to do here if the children of our parish are going to reach their potential. And be able to read their bibles so that they can know the living Word.

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Last week I blogged about some poetry books that I like to read with my own kids, and with the schoolchildren that I spend time reading with each week. The other resource that I use every week at school and that my gang at home have loved are a series of short stories, two in each book which come in a series as ‘A Pair of Jacks’.

There are four books in the series, written by Michael Lawrence and illustrated by Tony Ross. Each story is about 60 pages long, with large print and good pictures. What makes them great for readers all through Key Stage 2 (the Juniors to those of us who went to school before the National Curriculum) is that although there are not many words, there is much rich vocabulary and lots of fun with literary form in just a few pages.

Fiction-averse boys have enjoyed these stories as much as the girls – they are clever and humourous. They often play around with classic stories – the first one in the book shown above is called ‘Jack and the Broomstick‘ and is a parody of Jack and the Beanstalk – great for more able kids to think about how the original story has been subverted, but simple enough for the less able to enjoy aswell. This week I was reading from Jack-in-the-Box with a few of the children and we were discussing the meaning of ‘console’, ‘magnanimous’ and ‘ingrate’ as well as the frequency of orphan stories in children’s literature.

I’m planning a bit of a Jack-fest this half term with my kids – I’m going to see how receptive they are to guided reading with Mummy. Wish me luck – it’ll not be the books that are the problem if it goes wrong…

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I’ve had another little spurt of book reviewing for our summer camp for Pathfinders (ages 11-14) as I’m trying to work out which books to order for the bookstall I’m going to be running. YP’s Guide to the Bible is a great little 32 page booklet, costing less than £3. It’s a reference guide for dipping into and includes flow charts, basic bible facts, bible help for young people, key people and topics, a time line, outlines of bible books and maps.

This guide would be great for every Christian (even grown-ups!) to have on their shelf and I’ll be pushing for every Pathfinder on our camp to take one home. It’s good value and an excellent little starter for anyone who wants to understand how the bible fits together, what it’s all about and why Christians read it. As the quote from Vaughan Roberts on p4 of the booklet reminds us ‘It is just one book written by one author with one main subject’. That main subject being Jesus Christ.

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If you follow me on Twitter, you might have picked up that I help out at our church primary school most weeks, reading with kids who need a bit of a boost with their comprehension and language.

What’s been fun for me this year has been spending time with kids with a wide range of abilities – some are on a level 2 (just about reading) and others on a level 5 (top ability at the end of school). All the kids are in year 5 or 6 and they come to me in pairs and only have about half an hour.

Since there is so little time, I’m not able to listen to them read at length or discuss a long text, especially as I like to play comprehension board games (not very cheap but lots of fun) with them too. So over the time I’ve been meeting the children, I have gradually discovered some reading materials that are enjoyable to read but also short! And these are now coming in handy at home when bedtime is getting a bit late and the kids are still pleading for a story.

The best way to have a speedy story is to read poetry. For these year 5s and 6s I’ve been using Anne Fine’s anthologies called ‘A Shame to Miss’. Parts 1 and 2 are suitable for primary aged children and contain wonderful poems and occasional notes from Anne Fine, explaining context or difficult vocabulary. I’ve found these books really helpful for improving vocabulary and helping comprehension at school, and at home the kids enjoy the rhythm and richness of the verse. There’s enough variety to suit all abilities, but these are particularly good for the higher end readers.

My kids adore poems, especially funny ones and since they’ve been young we’ve had two books of poetry which we return to again and again. The first is The Puffin Book of Fantastic First Poems, a colourfully illustrated anthology edited by June Crebin, which is now minus its front cover and torn about the edges because it’s been so well used. The second is Mustard, Custard, Grumblebelly and Gravy by Michael Rosen. This book is hilarious, full of quirky poems about everyday situations, and has caused my children to commit poetry to memory. The first year we had the book, they wanted to spend all summer repeating ‘Tiffy taffy toffee on the flee flow floor’. They learnt it by heart and we were blessed with its silly rhymes for months.

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