Stretched out, socks off, toes in the grass, good book aloft blocking out the sun. That’s how you’ll find me when the weather’s warmer. Book reading for the Spring/Summer season is definitely an outdoor affair.
So having a little bookworm session outside, in the grounds of a ruined abbey, well that makes perfect sense. Even when the little bookworm in question has a hard time choosing a favourite, so has to bring his own mini mobile library along.
He’s a typical boy, his Mum told me. He’s also a pretty cool dude. Meet Joseph.
He was only two when we met in Farnham, so not quite reading on his own yet. But he knew the books he loved, recognised the pictures, loved flicking through the pages to find the funny bits.
Like that bit in the The Very Hungry Caterpillar where…well every single bit of that book is genius. Joseph was very happy to show me ONE of his favourites, even if it was only the back cover. We’re not yet at the stage of selecting an absolute favourite.
There were t-shirt changes and cool dude shades and places to run and hide to. This was definitely not going to be a quiet session. But when he did sit down for a moment, it was always because of a book.
In the end, we called in the big guns. Granny.
There’s still time to run about, reach for the sky and do great big bunny jumps off big bits of stone.
But in the end we settle on a favourite. The brilliant Monkey Puzzle written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler (the dream team behind The Gruffalo) and for literally minutes Joseph is engrossed. Minutes for a little boy who bubbles with energy and fizzes with enthusiasm is a long stretch of time. This book must be good.
When you’re little and you learn a book by heart, you can get easily upset by any deviation from the story. Now I’m not sure whether Joseph’s gran was going off script and improvising, but something definitely made Joseph sssshhhh her.
And then together they turn the page and discover something really surprising. Isn’t that the sign of an absolute classic? It doesn’t matter how well thumbed your favourite book is, it’s still able to delight and surprise you.
Whilst his little pot of fruit lasted, he picked book after book. He got quite comfy there and clearly enjoyed the experience of entering his imagination with someone he loved leading the way.
When I used to visit my grandparents up in London, I used to get to pick a book from behind the glass cabinet and read it to them out loud. Well, anyone that would listen actually. I remember it vividly. Books and stories don’t have to be an isolating activity when you are little – they can be a shared experience that create a lifelong love of reading.
When the last book was read and all the fruit was gone, it was time to capture 3 generations in one cuddle.
But independent boys can’t be held still for long.
Sunglasses back on. Attitude. Strike a pose.
If you have a little bookworm in your life but don’t live in Surrey, I’d still love for them to take part in the project. There are so many places that are great for outdoor libraries and stories told under an open sky.
To learn more and to take part, just click here.