It’s Roald Dahl’s birthday on Sunday and children all over the world are celebrating Roald Dahl Day to remember the storytelling genius that he was. There are lots of things you can do to celebrate:
1. Read some of Roald Dahl’s books, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Twits, Revolting Rhymes, or Fantastic Mr Fox.
2. Eat lots of chocolate (pretend you’re Charlie and you’ve just been given a whole chocolate factory!).
3. Watch a movie based on a Roald Dahl book, such as James and the Giant Peach, Matilda or Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the musical version starring Gene Wilder).
4. Make some revolting recipes. You could use the Revolting Recipes book for some ideas or just make up your own.
5. Take a test to see what Dahl character you are or colour-in The Twits. These activities can be found on the Roald Dahl Day website and we also have some that you could do if you come into Central Library at the weekend.
Whatever you do, just have fun and be as wacky as you can.
Something that happens heaps at the Children’s Desk is parents coming up and confiding “My child ONLY likes to read Rainbow Fairies/Captain Underpants/Famous Five/insert popular series here; how can I get them to read some proper books?” I’m sure even Roman Librarians were faced with parents saying “Meus parvulus tantum amo – I mean – my child ONLY likes to read Homer; how can I get them to read some proper books?” There are two things I normally tell parents in this situation :
1 – Any reading is good reading – comics, magazines, web pages even <groan> Dan Brown is perfectly satisfactory reading for any child. If your child likes to read, that’s awesome! Don’t get hung up on what they should be reading, just focus on what they enjoy.
2 – I used to read SUCH garbage when I was a kid and I turned out to be a wide-reading-modest-adult-genius: Sweet Valley High, Babysitters Club, Flowers in the Attic and pulp horror novels were all part of my reading diet, but it didn’t stop me from reading ‘proper’ books once I was a bit older.
One of the best things about my job is seeing kids tastes change and develop over time. It seems like it takes no time at all for a child to change from reserving all 84 (!) books in the Rainbow Magic series, to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, or The Once and Future King.
If you want to read more about your child and reading, try “The Reading Bug” by Paul Jennings or take a look at some of the reading resources for parents on our website.
Finally after several weeks, indeed months, we have reached the end of Milly Molly Mandy; a kind of minor obsession with my 4, now 5, year old daughter. Every story read from all the different collections on the library shelf: The Adventures of Milly-Molly-Mandy, Milly-Molly-Mandy Again, Further doings of Milly-Molly-Mandy, and then because this wasn’t enough, the collections in store: Milly-Molly-Mandy and Co, Milly-Molly-Mandy and Billy Blunt.
To get a book from store just use the catalogue to put a hold on it (or ask a librarian). Holds are free for Children and Youth borrowers.
Milly-Molly-Mandy, first published 1928, is about a girl living in a small English village at some point in the early 20th Century (in the earlier stories, her home is lit by candlelight, whilst by the last stories she has starred as an extra in a movie). Nothing much actually happens with scintillating titles such as Milly-Molly-Mandy runs an errand and Milly-Molly-Mandy wears a clean frock. But the stories had my daughter enthralled. Indeed they have a beautiful simplicity and offer a delightful window onto a world far removed from 2009 New Zealand. They remind me a little of the Mme Remotswe in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency stories.
Milly-Molly-Mandy’s steps in each story can be traced on the little village map at the front of each book – which my daughter delighted in doing (author Vanessa Collingridge attributes this feature of the Milly-Molly-Mandy books to inspiring her love of maps.)
Now we have reached the end though, I am both relieved and a little saddened – we will have to find something else to read together (My Naughty Little Sister, perhaps?). I mentioned Milly-Molly-Mandy to my own Mum back in the UK in a fortnightly phone call; “I vaguely recall you reading them to me, did you?”.
“Oh my word, I remember, every night – for weeeeks, you made me read them – I thought there would be no end!” she replied.