Posted in Personal life, Reading

Why Reading Makes Life Better

Tony Robinson
A ReadWell mobile bookcase, destined for a UK children’s hospital, with the support (or in this case supporting!) Read for Good’s patron Sir Tony Robinson (Photo by Read for Good)

The internet (God bless it) is awash with pithy sayings about the power of books to change lives, so it’s good now and again to be allowed to say something online about the subject without the constraints of the 140 character Tweet or the space allowed for a status update before Facebook cuts you off with a “see more” link.

My latest article for the monthly online parenting magazine Kideeko talks about the power of books to make life better for poorly children. It draws on my experience of three years working for the children’s reading charity Read for Good – parent of Readathon (which runs Sponsored Reads in schools) and ReadWell (taking books and storytellers to children in hospital).

Whether or not you have children at home, I reckon it’s still worth reading my article, if you have a moment to spare, to remind yourself of the power of storytelling to distract you from life’s ups and downs. To read the article in full, please click this link: Make Life Better with a Book

And if you’d like some ideas of great reads to curl up with, take a trip to my Book Reviews directory.

 

Posted in Personal life

Why I’ve Given Up Ironing

Photo of rag doll at toy ironing board
The only ironing that gets done in this house these days is toy ironing

(A post that will let you off the hook for housework this Easter holidays)

When you’ve written a lot of blog posts, it’s interesting to see over time which search strings drew most readers into your blog.

I was fascinated to realise recently that “how to cut down on your laundry” – about which I’ve written precisely one post – is one of my most popular search strings of all time.

You’d think by now, having been involved with websites practically since they were invented, that nothing in terms of search strings would surprise me. I certainly had to desensitize myself to cope with managing the online presence of a girls’ boarding school, where searches for “girls in uniform” were not always made by anxious mothers in search of the current kit list.

My reason for getting steamed up about laundry? I’ve just written a piece about how to “Make Time for Family Time” for the April issue of online parenting magazine Kideeko. In my book, that means jettisoning unnecessary housework in order to have fun with your family, as the muddled state of my house will testify.

I’m now wondering whether my piece will bring Kideeko equal SEO bounty in terms of web hits. Not only do I mention cutting down on laundry, but also eliminating ironing and abandoning supermarket shopping. Such recklessness – I know how to live!

So, as the school Easter holidays begin, if your first thought has been the need to catch up on the housework, read my Kideeko article now. It could be just the excuse you need to ditch the laundry and go and have fun with your kids instead. I know I will with mine, albeit in crumpled clothes. Happy Easter!

Click here to read “Make Time For Family Time” on the Kideeko online parenting magazine

And read here “How to Cut Down On Your Laundry”

Posted in Family, Personal life, Reading, Writing

Branching Out from Books

Kideeko logo   An update about one of my freelance writing projects   For the last year or so, I’ve been writing a regular column for a British online parenting magazine called Kideeko (www.kideeko.co.uk). I first became involved with Kideeko when I was still working part-time at the children’s reading charity Read for Good. At first, I was writing exclusively about children’s books and reading, fuelled by the knowledge and experience I’d gained through my work at Read for Good, and these articles provided a valuable opportunity to raise awareness before a family audience of Read for Good’s excellent work. For those of you who don’t already know, Read for Good is a UK national charity which exists to promote reading for pleasure among children. There are two distinct parts to the charity, which is funded entirely by donations (it’s easy to donate online via their websites):

  • Readathon, which provides schools with free materials to runs sponsored reading schemes in thousands of schools all over the country, at any time
  • ReadWell, which takes free books and storytellers into children’s hospitals to make life better for young patients, their families and their carers

In the three and a half years that I worked for Read for Good, I learned what I had already known instinctively: that books change lives for the better, in all kinds of ways.

Growing Up With Books

Page from Teddy Robinson book that has been coloured in by a young Debbie
An early indication of my love of books: enthusiastic colouring

My own life experience endorses that view. I was a lucky child: I was brought up in a house full of books, taken on regular visits to the local public library and had my own bookshelves in my bedroom. Books were valued and reading always encouraged. Whether sharing books with other members of the family, listening to stories on the radio or on vinyl records (no CDs or iPods in those days!), or reading alone, I grew up loving books. It was no surprise to anyone when I chose English Literature for my degree, or when my career revolved around writing, at first under the guise of trade press hack and PR consultant, and latterly as a published author, journalist and blogger. Although Kideeko’s editor has now asked me to address broader parenting topics, the joys of children’s books and reading are never far from my mind whenever I’m writing about children. (I also write for Today’s Child Magazine, available in print and online.) For evidence, you have only to read my article about Mother’s Day in Kideeko‘s March issue, in which I hark back to treasured moments sharing books and stories with my mum. You can read that column here: Making Mother’s Day

My mum and my daughter together
An 80th birthday hug from her granddaughter in a Christmas onesie

In the meantime, I’m looking forward to sharing Mother’s Day with my child, as well as my mum, this Sunday, and I wish a happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere. If you’d like to read more about my lovely mum and daughter, here are some past posts about them: The Scent of a Mummy – remembering my grandmothers’ and mother’s perfumes The Only Certainties in Life: Birthdays and Taxescelebrating my mum’s 80th birthday Father’s Day To Followmy daughter’s take on such celebrations