Monday, 21 January 2019

In Defence Of Slow Readers

At the end of last month I saw a lot of posts, on blogs and on social media generally, about the number of books people had read that year. Many of those numbers were impressively big; some were even in three figures.

Last year I made a big effort to read more myself. And I feel I was successful in that. My magic number? 11.

That's right. I read 11 books, and I'm pleased with that.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

The thing is, you see, I'm a slow reader. Always have been. I enjoy reading, actually I love it, but it's not always easy for me. Particularly if I'm tired or stressed, it can be hard to keep track of where I am on the page - words seem to jump around, lines merge together and I often have to reread entire paragraphs because I've managed to read the words without taking in any of the meaning. I don't know if I'm actually dyslexic or whether I'm just a bit slow, but speed reading will never be my forte.

For years I've felt embarrassed about this, as if being a slow reader means I'm less intelligent. It's the reason why, when I was feeling unhappy in my Theatre Studies degree in the first year, I persevered rather than switching to English Literature as I wanted to - I was afraid I wouldn't be able to keep up with the reading lists. Nowadays I still feel like I have to defend my inability to read huge piles of books - I feel impelled to explain that for me it's not just a case of prioritising different things, or being too busy, I will simply never be able to read fast. And of course the most embarrassing thing is that my unusually gifted reader daughter has been able to read faster than me for two years now!

But being a slow reader does have its good points. I'm able to inhabit the world of a book for longer, and I can often remember books in quite a lot of detail because I've taken my time over them. I never run out of books to read, because I acquire them far faster than I can read them. And there is, even now, a sense of achievement when finishing a long or challenging book that I don't think I'd get if I could just whizz through it in a week or less.

If you can get through a dozen books a month, then that's fantastic and boy do I envy you! But don't assume that people who read less just don't like reading as much as you. I love it. I love books. I just have to work a bit harder to get through them.

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum.

Read With Me

Monday, 14 January 2019

Review: 'Stay Strong' by Dr Sharie Coombes

Bullying. It's something every parent of schoolchildren dreads. Two and a half years in, I still haven't quite got used to the sense of powerlessness when I send Girl Child to school for six hours a day and can do nothing to help her in her interactions. She's yet to experience bullying thankfully, and her school are great at dealing with problems so I'm not overly worried, but she is a sensitive soul who takes even the slightest teasing or power play to heart.

When I saw the workbooks by Dr Sharie Coombes I felt sure these could help Girl Child deal with her feelings. So when 'Stay Strong' came up in a Toppsta giveaway I entered to give the book a try, and luckily I won a copy.



Although the book says it is 'for young people who are experiencing bullying', actually I think all children could benefit from this book. Many of the activities within the book aren't directly related to bullying - they focus on building confidence, celebrating differences and finding calming techniques to help children to control their instinctive fight/flight/freeze response. The book refers to this as 'Bob', the primitive part of our brain that is supposed to protect us from threats.



There are so many fantastic activities in this book. A lot of them are very creative and focussed around drawing, so this would work particularly well for an arty child, but there are also written activities, breathing exercises and encouragement to move around and be energetic.



The activities encourage a lot of self reflection, discovering the child's strengths and helping them to see themselves as strong and able to withstand teasing and bullying. I think these activities would be best worked through with a supportive adult, especially for sensitive or insecure children. Others are a bit more open-ended, allowing children to get creative while still getting them thinking about the key themes of celebrating difference and finding inner strength.



Girl Child has looked through the book a few times and done some of the activities but then the busyness of Christmas and New Year got in the way. But I'm really glad we have this resource now to help her find inner strength and deal with conflicts herself. It's something she is always likely to struggle with so I'm grateful for books like this, and am definitely going to buy the other books by Dr Coombes which all deal with various aspects of emotional intelligence.

Linking up with #ReadWithMe hosted by Mama Mummy Mum and Kids Love To Read #KLTR hosted by Laura's Lovely Blog.


Read With Me


Laura's Lovely Blog

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Things We've Done To Be Greener In ... December

December is possibly the hardest month to be green. Christmas, a hugely significant festival to me, nowadays feels like a big consumerist binge and it's very hard to get away from that unless you live in a remote backwater away from all of society. But we did what we could to stay eco-friendly. How?


Reined in our buying


A popular motto for eco-living is 'reduce, reuse, recycle' and they're in that order for a reason. One of the best things we can do for the planet is buy less stuff. With that in mind, we did what we could to make sure the presents we bought weren't excessive and were things that would actually be appreciated and used. With Girl Child we only bought things from her list, and shared out the items on her list with family so that the number of 'surprise' presents was limited. This helps her too as she struggles a lot with surprises. Similarly with food, we were careful not to over cater. We had a traditional Christmas dinner at my mum's on Christmas Eve so to avoid waste we chose a meal that we would all eat for Christmas Day - and that was lasagne!! Not having to chuck away leftovers did make me very happy!

Shopped local


I love online shopping. It's so hard to find time to go to actual shops when you have two young children. And while there might be some argument that centralised warehouses and grouped deliveries might be greener than we think, the amount of packaging required for online purchases is a concern (as are the conditions and rights for the workers). I can't say with all honesty that I did no online shopping this year, but we made more of an effort to buy from actual shops. The reduction in packaging we had to throw away before we could even wrap presents was very noticeable!

Tried to be wrapping-savvy


I have a confession. This is the first Christmas I've known that not all wrapping paper is recyclable. Before now I've shoved everything in the green bin, without even removing sellotape. Oops! But this year I learnt the rules and even double checked with my local council. Anything that isn't foil or glittery and passed the scrunch test (stayed in a ball after scrunching) can be recycled here as long as you remove tape and tags. So we used compliant wrapping paper ourselves and properly sorted the paper we got to make sure it was in a state fit for recycling. Some people recommend using scarves to wrap presents but I could see that getting expensive, especially when it's not yet widespread so you wouldn't be getting many scarves back in return. And I'm too clumsy to manage tying with ribbon instead of using tape. But it doesn't have to be hard work to wrap in a green way - just check local guidelines and buy accordingly.


What did you do to have a green Christmas?