We’ve now got to the point where there are certain books we’ve read so many times that the two-year-old knows them pretty much by heart. Hairy Maclary’s Caterwaul Caper is his real party trick – at first he was able to fill in repeated refrains at the appropriate place, then he began reciting it with me as I read. Now he can pick up the book on his own and “read” it aloud to himself.

I would like to think that this is an early sign of sparkling intellect, but I think it probably has more to do with author Lynley Dodd’s astute sense of the rhythm, rhyme and repetition that small children find so appealing and engaging. It’s a measure of her success that Arthur is even able to take the more sophisticated vocabulary in his stride, such as “purposeful”, “startled” and “sneakily”. These are words he would never use in real life, and probably doesn’t really know what they mean, but the lively cadence carries him along – or at least allows him to find close enough approximations, so the unfamiliar “jellymeat” becomes “jellyfeet”.

It’s books like these that I think really bring reading alive for Arthur, allowing him to evolve from being a passive audience to taking an active part in the story. And of course there’s the added bonus that if he can read them to himself it gives me a bit of a break.

By Alice



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