Today Packing for the Journey features two stories from Dr Virginia Lowe. These wonderful anecdotes show how shared book reading enriches children’s knowledge and their ever-expanding understanding of life.
* * * * * * * *
‘I’ll tell you a story Mum’: Two children tell
by Virginia Lowe
I kept a record of my two children’s contact with books and their responses. Rebecca is almost three years and three months older than her brother. The children’s own stories arose naturally from contact with books. These two stories demonstrate how the children use this literary material – in this case at least, one shows her scientific bent, the other works on relationships.
1. Nick the whale. One morning, Rebecca and I had a row before school – the reason for it is not recorded, but Nick disliked us arguing and was tense about it. Later he was helping me hang out the washing, as usual handing me pegs. (He was 3y1m old.) This time he was picking them up in his mouth because he was being alternately a shark and a whale.
N: I’m picking them up in my mouth cos I can’t use my flippers. I’m a friendly whale.
V: You’re clever to do that Mr Whale.
N: Yes, I can do that ‘acouse I’m an excellent whale who can do everything that is magic.
He talked a bit about his mother who had gone shopping underwater. Then,
N: I’m having an argument with my mother [imaginary whale one that is].
V: Oh yes. Do whales like arguments? [Expecting him to say that like him, they didn’t. It’s obviously different for whales]
N: Yes. Argumenting [sic] is good for whales.
He carried the monologue on over lunch. His [whale] mother was sitting beside him.
N: I’m sharing my food with my mother. She said to put the plate in the middle.
V: What am I?
N: You’re people
He carried through fairly logically, as a completely anthropomorphised whale.
N: Do you know how we get out of the water? We use our flippers on the steps.
N: Do you know how we wash our clothes?
N: In a washing machine! [etc etc].
Anyway, at rest time, I fetchedWhale’s Way (Johnston) to read to him. He at once identified himself with the largest whale on the endpapers and first few pages.
N: That’s me and that’s my mother. I’m bigger than my mother.
N: That’s me and that’s my mother [the lower, closer one]. I’m bigger than my mother. I’m a grown up whale.