This was a question that my hairdresser asked me in November.
‘I read with her every day but the school tells me she is behind and I am worried.’ Explained Michelle.
‘How old is she?’ I asked.
‘She is only 6 and is one of the youngest in her class.’
‘Don’t worry,’ I suggested. ‘Just continue to enjoy reading, read anything you can and in any way, perhaps make it a game. The main thing is not to feel under pressure, it will come.’
However, as a concerned single parent, Michelle was still worried, she worried that maybe her daughter, Indie, was dyslexic or perhaps life circumstances were taking a toll on her daughters reading. She had tried to find out more from the school but busy teachers had not been able to reassure her.
We talked a lot about the books we both enjoyed and shared stories.
Michelle had also considered getting extra tuition but we spoke about the extra pressure this would cause. She did not want her daughter to switch off reading completely. The school would be pushing all the children with the Year 2 SAT’s coming up so there would be pressure enough.
Michelle spoke about an idea she had thought of, to make a Christmas advent book calendar. She had bought a few sets of books from book clubs and these could be broken up and spread out to make 24 book parcels.
The pile of 24 presents would appear on the 1st December from the Christmas Elf. Each day her daughter would be able to open her numbered book parcel which they could then share that day.
Michelle had decided to buy a copy of my new book, ‘The Christmas Play Rehearsal’, as this would be a perfect Christmassy start especially as her school would be putting on their own Christmas play. She would also be able to take her signed book into school to share with her teacher and class.
In January when we next met, I asked how the calendar had worked and Michelle was thrilled and delighted to say that it had not only been a great success but that her daughter was now a more confident reader.
Michelle explained that it was initially quite a chore to start with as her daughter complained, ‘Not another book.’ But with the books pitched perfectly in ability and range Indie began to look forward with excitement.
Some books were simple text that Indie could read herself. These included ‘Twisty Tales’ which were based on familiar tales with a twist. The books had bright and bold artwork with easy-to-follow text. They were full of fun and included ‘Three Little Pigs and the New Neighbour’.
Dr Seuss books had rhyme as well as information ‘On Beyond Bugs! All about insects!’ was one of Indies favourites. Indie could not only learn information but enjoyed the rhymes and wanted to sing along too.
‘Winnie the Witch’, offered great illustrations as well as a great story and Indie began to look forward to these books in particular. Both she and Michelle would read along together and Indie began to join in with the reading when she could.
With a range of books and styles across the 24 days Michelle was delighted to say she was no longer worried about her daughters reading and that her daughter had really looked forward with enthusiasm to her daily book. Her confidence had certainly grown.
With still a few books remaining from each set Christmas day brought a few more books from the Christmas Elf.
What a great idea and what a result.
But I wondered if indeed this idea could be developed further to incorporate writing too. With notebooks; pens; pencils; stickers; postcards to write; cards to colour.
What an interesting advent that would make.
As to cost, Michelle explained that she had managed to find book deals and most books worked out cheap enough overall about £1 a book.
But most importantly her daughter now loved reading, was confident and enthusiastic.
Where to get my books
Books are available from the following: My Books
Don't forget to look and ask in your local Museum, book shop or even buy on your Sainsburys on line shop!