Inspiration all around

May 16th 2012

There was great excitement this evening when a large school of thick-lipped grey mullet congregated under the boat next to us. Lily ran below deck to get the fish identification book (we were pretty sure they were mullet, but we wanted confirmation) and Katie bounced up and down and pointed excitedly. I’ve started to keep a notebook with Lily of the wildlife she’s spotted – mullet and black backed gulls today. I have to admit my art work isn’t the best, but with the help of pictures in books I can manage a recognisable version of the animal in question. Lily dictates the text to me (with some prompting) and then she and Katie either colour in the pictures or draw them elsewhere.

Among the things we’ve made room for on Carina are reference books, mostly about oceans, marine wildlife, the seashore, etc. The girls like pouring over the pictures and asking me questions – what’s that? what’s it doing? and the often unanswerable ‘why?’. Lily in particular likes to bring home shells she finds on the beach and then she and Julian try to find them in the seashore book. The girls have a much better capacity to remember the names of the species than I have, and can often tell me the name of something weeks after we’ve last seen it. I have to admit I often don’t believe Lily when she tells me the name of some shell or other and just as often she’s proved correct when we get the book out!

One thing I’m struggling with is reading by following the words with my finger. This is the way Daddy read to me and I learned to read pretty quickly. I’ve also always been inspired by the romantic image of Atticus Finch reading the newspapers to Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird and I imagined myself reading like that once my own kids came along. I hadn’t really factored in that kids are wriggly little things who want to see the pictures and don’t want my big clumsy hands getting in the way! And a lot of the books we read together have pictures and words all jumbled up all over the page, so my hands really do get in the way. Lily, however, is intrigued by speech bubbles, and always wants to know exactly what’s written in them, so that’s always a good opportunity to follow the words. Maybe we need to read more comics – and excuse to buy the Beano!

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