Kids · Reading · World Book Day

Five Ways to Get Your Kids Interested in Reading

Southend on Sea’s award-winning Children’s Library © Andy Spain

With World Book Day on the horizon and parents around the country scrambling to put together costumes for the kids, we’re all thinking about the books that we love. It’s a great way to get kids to be creative and learn about new books from their friends, but what do we do for the rest of the year when books just aren’t as engaging to kids as gadgets or screens? Although the girls both love a bit of screen time, they’re also complete bookworms and love reading, so I thought I’d share with you five tips on how to get kids interested in reading:

Give Them Freedom

There’s a tendency with a lot of parents to try to get their kids to focus on “real” books, steering them towards novels which they feel their kids should be reading. However, we’ve found that giving kids freedom over what they read is a much better way to get them to read. Whether it’s a comic, magazine, joke book, even a recipe book – if they find it engaging, it’s ALL reading! Their tastes will likely change over time, but removing the pressure can have a profound effect. Happy Beds have released a new World Book Day campaign, which looks at the UK’s best bedtime books. This is a great list and hopefully your children will love the thought of reading some of these!

Read With Them

While some kids find snuggling down in a corner with a book a pleasant experience, some kids find it isolating, which in turn discourages them. Ask if you can read to them, or let them read to you, and make it something fun that you can do together. You can even sit together and read your own books to yourselves, but a sense of closeness and companionship can really help.

Make it Fun

There’s are SO many ways to make reading fun. Pick a corner of the room and make it your reading nook, get some blankets and torches and make yourselves a reading den, pick a character each and do your own voices for them! Kids will engage with a book in a much bigger way if they feel that what they’re reading is fun and exciting.

Visit a Library

Library use is way down in recent years and far fewer parents take their kids to the library than ever before, which is such a shame. Check your library for fun events, as they often have things running in the holidays. Also, when you go to the library, don’t just check your books out and leave – many libraries have comfy little spots where you can sit and read while you’re there, which will maximise the value of your visit and give your kids a sense that going to the library is an event in itself.

Be Topical

Kids often like books when they have context to their lives. If they’ve watched a film about space, find a book on the same subject so they can learn more. If they’re currently mad about dinosaurs or cooking or a sport, encourage them to read about the subject as this will help improve their knowledge and vocabulary.

Do you have any tips for getting kids to become book-lovers or fun ideas for how to celebrate World Book Day? I’d love to hear them, so please do leave me a comment below.


My Favourite Holiday Reads

logo-2014I don’t know about you, but I do love to take a good book with me on holiday, and with the invention of e-readers, you can now take a whole library away with you, whilst taking up barely any space in your suitcase or handbag. Holiday reading should be something which is light but engaging, something which allows you to relax whilst diving into a good story, and as it’s World Book Day today, I thought I’d give you a selection of some of my favourite holiday reads, which might inspire you next time you jet off somewhere nice.

Anything by Bill Bryson

Bill Bryson is one of my favourite authors, so it’s hard for me to narrow it down to just one of his books, however A Walk in the Woods was probably the one which got the most belly-laughs out of me! This might not be one to read if you plan to spend a lot of time lounging around the pool or beach by yourself, as you tend to look like a bit of a loon doing random outbursts of laughter, but if you want something to add to your holiday happiness, I wholeheartedly recommend Mr. Brysons particular brand of wit.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

Okay, so this might not be the most light-hearted of books, but Lisbeth Salander is the ultimate feminist hero and The Millennium Trilogy from which this book comes is genuinely some of the most compulsive reading that I’ve ever experienced – you know that feeling of slight disorientation with real life when you put the book down, because you’ve been SO immersed? That’s how addictive these books are!

The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year – Sue Townsend

Yes, it’s that Sue Townsend, of Adrian Mole fame. This book is a real departure from her early works, but the wit and ability to weave a great tale remains, and this book is a brilliant sun-lounger read. It’s not War and Peace, but it’s on the decent end of the ‘chick-lit’ genre and is very enjoyable.

Billy – Pamela Stephenson

If you like a biography, there’s not many better than Billy Connollys, which is written by his wife, Pamela Stephenson, who is also a noted psychologist. Hysterically funny in places, heartbreaking in others, it’s almost hard to believe that such a troubled life can produce someone with so much humour in their soul, but this book is compulsive reading, nonetheless and gives you a real insight into the man behind the jokes.

A Song of Ice and Fire – George R. R. Martin

If you’ve not heard of this series of books, you’ll no doubt have heard of Game of Thrones, the TV show adaptation of them. I’m still on the first book, whilst Husband has read his way through all of the existing 5 books (and is now patiently waiting for the final two!). Even if you’ve already watched the show, the books are still well worth a read as the stories are so much richer and more in-depth in the novels, and I honestly think you’ll like these books even if you aren’t a fan of the fantasy genre, as the storylines and relationships within the books are about SO much more than dragons and giants.

If you need help choosing your next holiday read, Thomas Cook have put together a fun little  World Book Day app which allows you to choose you to input your destination and your favourite genre and it’ll tell you exactly which book you should take with you on your holidays!

World Book Day

World Book Day

Here in the Mum’s the Word household, we’re HUGE fans of reading. Husband has just finished the mammoth task of working his way through the A Song of Ice and Fire series (and is waiting with baited breath for Mr. Martin to publish the next in the series) and I’m currently doing a bit of light-entertainment with a John Grisham novel, a go-to of mine when I just want a book to pass the time. Of course, Sausage is getting on on the act these days too, with her reading coming on leaps and bounds in the last year. She’s a lover of all things Dr. Seuss, amongst other things, and just recently bought her new sister a plush tiger from The Tiger Who Came to Tea, hopefully kicking off a love of books in the newest member of the family.

Fancy Dress Ball recently conducted a survey to see which children’s books and authors were the most popular and the results were much as I’d expected:

Top 3 Favourite Fictional Characters 

Harry Potter (15%)

Gruffalo (2.9%)

Winnie The Pooh (2.8%)

Top 3 Favourite Fictional Authors
JK Rowling (12.5%)

Enid Blyton (7.5%)

Roald Dahl (7.4%)

I’m a huge fan of the Harry Potter books myself and I can’t WAIT until Sausage is old enough for me to read them to her. I’m sure she’d like them now, but I reckon she’s got a couple of years before she can really, truly comprehend and appreciate the series fully, so I want to wait until that optimum time! She’s already a fan of Roald Dahl, with The Twits being her all-time favourite, but George’s Marvellous Medicine and Matilda all feature highly on her list of beloved books.

Unfortunately, Sausage’s school aren’t doing a World Book Day dress up this year, otherwise I reckon constructing a Mrs. Twit costume would have been super fun! twitsFrom Wikipedia “Mrs. Twit is the hideously unattractive, menacing wife of Mr. Twit, whose formerly pretty countenance was erased as a result of constant horrible thoughts over time. She takes advantage of her glass eye to play practical jokes in revenge against her husband, and demonstrates multiple acts of cruelty and viciousness throughout the story; it has been mentioned that the main reason behind her use of a walking cane was as a weapon against innocent children and animals, she participates in the torment of the couple’s pet monkeys the Muggle-Wumps, and serves Mr. Twit a lunch of earthworms disguised as spaghetti. Albeit she also frequently demonstrates acts of stupidity, she has also exhibited intelligence; she managed to manoeuvre her way out of a prank that ended with her being carried off into the sky with balloons by chewing through several of them and landing safely on the ground. However, aside from this, she is portrayed as being hideous and unhygienic.”

Creating a costume for Mrs. Twit sounds like it would be a lot of fun! I’d find a dress in a local charity shop and add as many grim stains as I can, give Sausage a walking stick, back-comb her hair so it looks super untidy, and possibly even accessorise with a few stuffed monkeys and balloons tied to her arms!

Who would you choose to dress up as for World Book Day, and how would you achieve the look? Let me know!


Best Libraries in the UK

There are few pleasures as great as losing yourself in a good book, especially during the winter months. The ebook revolution has meant it’s easier than ever to enjoy books on the go, but spare a thought for Britain’s historic libraries. With many of our country’s finest reading rooms under threat, it’s time to appreciate anew those beautiful buildings where you can while away the afternoon curled up with a good (borrowed) book.

Central Library, Edinburgh


Edinburgh’s Central Library is an oasis of calm in the middle of a bustling city. It’s slightly more relaxed than the huge National Library across the road, and has an excellent selection of books, from new releases and graphic novels to a section dedicated to the history of Scotland’s capital city. There are plenty of nooks and crannies, perfect for grabbing a bit of peace, and the gothic architecture will leave you feeling like you’re starring in a 1940’s film. Cycle there in one of these gorgeous day dresses with a satchel on your shoulder for a truly picture-perfect afternoon!

The British Library, London


London has more than its fair share of excellent libraries, but true book enthusiasts can’t look past the majestic British Library. Boasting over 150 million items, with 3 million new pieces added each year, you’re sure to find a book to inspire you. The library also has exhibition galleries, which show off legendary collectors’ items like the Lindisfarne Gospels, original Beatles manuscripts, and the world’s oldest printed book, the Diamond Sutra. This season’s major exhibition is entitled Georgians Revealed and looks to be as fascinating as we’ve come to expect – don’t miss it!

The Library of Birmingham, Birmingham


The new library on the block opened in September 2013. While a visit to Birmingham usually involves several hours in the Bullring enjoying retail therapy and large quantities of fast food, it’s well worth making a detour to visit this unique building. The architecture is certainly striking, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The interior space is modern, bright and vibrant, with a café and plenty of places to sit and read. Their selection includes one of the best collections of works by Shakespeare, and an exhibition of children’s books and games dating back to the 16th century.

Post provided by guest author, Kira.

Life · Opinion · Parenting · Personal

World Book Day, the ‘Mum’s the Word’ Way.

Today is World Book Day. If you have children of primary school age, you probably already know this as you’ll either have needle-pricked fingers from frantically sewing a costume, or a dented Visa from giving in and buying a damned costume!

Here in the Mum’s the Word house, we’re a true family of readers, Sausage has been read to since she was in the womb and Husband and I are never far from our Kindles so we thought we’d put together our list of reading recommendations, in honour of World Book Day.

1. Sausage’s Reads

I asked Sausage what her favourite book in the whole world was and it’s varied between Meg and Mog, Room on the Broom, The Snail and the Whale and her beloved Ponyo and Totoro books. My favourite book to read to her is probably The Snail and the Whale or Room on the Broom as I love Julia Donaldson’s effortlessly beautiful prose, which just trips off of the tongue.

2. Husband’s Reads

The first book that Husband recommends is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. When I asked him why, he said that he found the book “absolutely enthralling” and that it spoke to him on many levels. He also said is was hugely refreshing to find a book that’s both funny and entertaining, whilst espousing a message of tolerance and happiness.

Husband is also a bit of a true crime fan and had nothing but good things to say about author and psychological profiler Robert Ressler, particularly his book ‘Whoever Fights Monsters‘, which he said was traumatising and difficult to read, yet fascinating and rewarding at the same time.

An honourable mention also goes to Paul Ekman’s ‘Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage‘, a truly enlightening look at microexpressions, it’s written by the man who inspired the brilliant TV series ‘Lie to Me’.

3. My Reads

I’m currently smack bang in the middle of ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire‘, the second book in the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ve been wanting to read these books for ages and have finally got around to it and I can’t hardly put my Kindle down.

Another author of whom I am particularly enamored is the amazing Mr. Stephen Fry. I’ve read just about everything he has written, both fiction and non and I would recommend it all. There’s something in his books for everyone, fantasy, history, romance, intrigue, politics…I think they should be part of the National Curriculum,  kids would get SO much more from his books than some of the stuffy old texts that are still prescribed and I guarantee a lot more teenagers would be interested in English if these were in there!

At the risk of overdoing it, I’d also like you ALL to go out and read at least one book by the following authors:

1. Bill Bryson

2. Douglas Adams

3. J.K. Rowling

4. Philip Pullman

Sermon over! (But seriously, do go and read these books, they’re worth it, I promise!)