Sunday, 18 August 2013

@LindseyFraser posted

a link to Twitter about bedtime reading - here - and I prowled over to read it. Yes, it is worth a read. What a wonderful experience those children are having!
I have a deep love of bedtime reading. I need to read at bedtime. I watch very little television. Our television set gets very little use as the Senior Cat also prefers to read. It does not matter how late it is or how tired I am I need to read, if only a little.
I am sure I get my love of reading from the Senior Cat. The blog post above transported me back to my own childhood and bedtime reading.
It was my father who read to me, not my mother.  Some of my very earliest memories are of sitting in front of the old Metters No 5 - a wood burning stove a little like an Aga. I am sitting on the Senior Cat's bony knees. He has the book open in front of me and he is putting his finger on each word as he reads to me.
The oven door has been opened in order to warm the room and the Senior Cat is holding me firmly with the one hand as the other hand turns the pages and points to the words. It must be winter, probably late winter, and I would have been around twenty months old.  And yes, I really can remember this. The images are still sharp in my mind. Even at that very young age I was hooked on books.
I can even remember some of the books, although I think those memories must come from later. I could read some words by the time I was two, really read them. I did not just recognise them in a familiar book. I would find them in other places. I would go through other reading material and try to find the words I could read.
My parents believed in phonics so I was taught to "sound the word" from the start. I went from recognising letters and words in things like "Splish Splash Rainy Day" and "The tale of Peter Rabbit" to sounding words out for myself.
Of course I did not always get it right. There were times when I became intensely frustrated. I can remember my mother shouting at me, "Not now Cat! I'm busy." More than once I resorted to the neighbour over the fence. She seemed to have more time.
But, at night, the Senior Cat would pick me up and put me on his knee and we would read together. There was no public library in the little country town where we lived but the Senior Cat would bring books home from the school and there were books from the Children's Country Lending Service. If the Senior Cat had to go into the university during the school holidays he would take me to the big library in the city and I could choose books for myself. I can remember arguing, probably not very politely, with the librarian about what I was allowed to borrow. Aged about four she, perhaps rightly, thought that picture books were more suitable. I had chosen Mumfie's Magic Box by Katherine Tozer and it was only after I had read the first page to her that I was allowed to borrow it!
When we moved to the city just before my fifth birthday the Senior Cat stopped reading to me every night. He was not always there. He was finishing his degree. Teachers rarely did degrees back then but he was determined to get one and was doing it part time. That meant lectures late in the afternoon and an evening tutorial. 
If he was home though he would still try to find the time to read to me. He brought books back from the Children's Library for me and I devoured them. Bedtime reading was part of this. "One chapter!" my mother would say and then take the book away.
And I dreamed of writing my own books.


Jan said...

What a lovely post to read. It made me quite nostalgic for my childhood. Dad read to us every night and also made up stories for him to tell. I still remember one about a little girl who carried coloured sands around in the tray of her dinky. Yes, it must have been me, although I didn't realise it at the time.

I attended a small school in what was then on the fringes of suburbia in Sydney. Dad was a teacher but I was never in his class unless it was a combined class because a teacher was away. He too did his degree when I was in High School. Part time at night.

I was sent to read to sixth class from their school magazine when I was in kindergarten. Not a good idea really. It made me even less popular than I already was because of my father's being a teacher. I can also recall doing tests of word comprehension and meaning. I would be stopped and asked to explain the meaning of some word the teacher did not expect me to know. A bit like your librarian.

There were always books and I was allowed to read anything I liked.

I have an early memory too. I was about 18 months old and Dad came to pick me up from Sunday School to walk home. My mother disputed this memory till I described in detail what I was wearing and also described my tiny gold brooch. She believed me then.

catdownunder said...

There must have been many men who did their degrees part-time back then Jan.
Remember "reading comprehension"? My father would sometimes get me to read the piece and then set the questions for everyone else!