Despite being only fourteen months old, our son is already showing an interest in books. Sometimes this involves pulling them off shelves rather than actually reading them, but I still see such acts as small steps on the pathway towards literacy. Before he could walk, one of our son’s favourite activities seemed to be crawling into our spare room and trying to empty the entire contents of a set of bookshelves onto the floor.
He also tried a similar trick on a visit to a library event for toddlers and little kids at which I energetically tried to pick up books as soon as he’d thrown them on the floor. I think that this was a game that he quite enjoyed in fact. Indeed, he seemed to like it even more than playing with any of the many toys that the library had. When I was small, I also enjoyed messing around in libraries. I once left part of the bottom of one of my trouser legs in a library – it was a turn-up for the books.
As it happens, one of the first Christmas presents that I bought for our son was a book called Dilyn Dilys. The title is Welsh for ‘following Dilys’ and tells the story of a sheep called Dilys who goes for a walk and encounters various different birds and animals along the way. As someone who has learnt Welsh as an adult, I sometimes come across words in Welsh language children’s books that I do know. Indeed, I discovered the Welsh words for bees, thistles and fluffy thanks to Dilyn Dilys.
In addition to providing an opportunity to enrich my Welsh vocabulary, I also see reading kids’ books as being part of quality father and son time. My dad and my mum both read to me as a child and I’m sure that my wife and I will both read to our son as he grows up. We’re bringing up our son bilingually and this normally involves my wife speaking English to him and me speaking Welsh to him. By exposing him to books in both languages, I hope that our son will be able to take pleasure in the cultures and traditions that are associated with the Welsh and English languages as well as taking in the words (and pictures) in his books.
As I started learning Welsh as an adult after moving to Wales back in 2007, reading to my son has meant that I’ve generally not been using the very same books as the ones I had read to me when I was small. In some ways, this might seem like a bit of a shame but it is also a source for me as I get to discover new books. Indeed, I’ve quite enjoyed looking through the kids’ books at a fantastic local independent bookshop that stocks a great range of titles in both Welsh and English.
Our son seems to be showing quite a bit of ambition when it comes to reading despite being very small. On a recent trip to a library with mummy and granny, he decided that the books for babies and toddlers weren’t all that interesting and instead kept grabbing books about things like dinosaurs and robots from the shelf for older children.
I’ve also tried to keep ahead of the game when it comes to reading and parenting. As I mentioned in a post entitled Bilingual parenting means learning lots of jokes, I have been stocking up on joke books in both Welsh and English so as I can take on the traditional paternal role of sharing puns, one liners and other forms of rib-ticklers in different languages. Some might say that I don’t tell many good jokes in English so shouldn’t have trouble failing to tell decent jokes in Welsh. However, I feel that I would be failing in my paternal duties were I not able to tell dad jokes in both languages.
I’m not sure what’s in store this weekend for Fathers’ Day but I’m looking forward to spending some quality family time with my wife and son. Last year we went out for lunch and then on to a local pottery shop where we got our son to decorate some plates with paint footprints and handprints. He was so calm and relaxed about it all at the time, but I think things would be a bit different now that he’s walking and running all over the place. I certainly wouldn’t be relaxed taking him into a pottery shop anyway!
What are you looking forward to this Fathers’ Day and what books do you like reading with your children? Feel free to share your views in the comments section below or on the ‘Dad’s The Way I Like It’ pages on Facebook or Google+.
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OTHER POSTS FROM THIS BLOG ABOUT BOOKS AND READING
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