I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Double Entendre

If I've been sounding a bit gaga lately - in the nice sense of the word - there may be a good explanation: we're the proud godparents of identical twins! Let me introduce you to Roman and Simon, who were born here in Lyon in February.

Aren't they gorgeous? It is becoming increasingly difficult to tell them apart and I fear that I will never get it right. Luckily the parents have decided they will be dressed differently!

As you can see, we are getting in early with the whole book thing - you may laugh, but they actually do pay attention and seem to enjoy the experience of having something read out to them.

Which brings me on to something I've often pondered. Are we taught to become book lovers and avid readers, or is it something in our genes, in our individual make-up? Will a child who is often read to and surrounded by books go on to adore them later in life? Is a child who is not encouraged to read or treasure books likely to fall in love with them when they're an adult? I'm sure there are many opinions on this. I have friends who say they don't read books because they were never introduced to them as a child. I have other friends who say they are book fanatics but don't know why: their parents didn't read, there were no books in the house and they hated reading at school.

In 2005 the National Literary Trust in Britain carried out a survey of 8,000 pupils from 98 schools in England, producing these interesting findings:

􀂃 Half the sample of pupils said they enjoy reading either very much or
quite a lot and rated themselves as proficient readers.

􀂃 The majority of pupils read every day or once/twice a week.

􀂃 Almost half the sample believed that they were reading enough. A fifth of
pupils stated that not only were they not reading enough, but they also
would not want to read more.

􀂃 Pupils generally held positive attitudes towards reading - agreeing with
statements that reading is important and disagreeing with statements that
reading is boring, hard, or for girls rather than boys.

􀂃 Pupils indicated reading a diverse range of materials outside class, which
included texts other than books. When asked specifically about fiction
preferences, adventure, comedy and horror/ghost stories were the most
frequently chosen types.

􀂃 Most pupils read in the bedroom, followed by the classroom and the
living room.

􀂃 When asked why they were reading, most pupils indicated that they read
because it is a skill for life, it helps them find out what they want/need to
know and because it is fun. Only a fifth of pupils read because they have

􀂃 Pupils said that they would read more if they had more time, if they
enjoyed it more, if books were cheaper and if books were about subjects
they were interested in.

􀂃 When asked what activities would encourage them to read more, half the
sample stated that designing websites/magazines, meeting
authors/celebrity readers and reading games would motivate them.
Rating books and writing book reviews were only motivating for a fifth of

􀂃 Over 80% of pupils reported that it was their mother who had taught
them to read, followed by their teacher and their father.

􀂃 Almost half the pupils never or almost never talked with their family
about what they were reading. Their mother, father and friend were the
top three people with whom pupils discussed their reading. Their mother,
teacher and father were also the most frequently cited reading partners.

􀂃 Pupils also believed that their mother spends more time reading than
their father.

􀂃 A quarter of pupils reported that their father never spent any time

􀂃 Pupils stated that their mother encourages them to read more frequently
than their father.

􀂃 Finally, when asked who should teach them to read and who should
encourage them to enjoy reading, the majority of pupils stated that these
should be done by both the home and the school.

So, it goes without saying that Roman and Simon can look forward to lots of books from us in the future! We also plan to always hit home the importance of reading ... in French and English, of course.


Unknown said...

Hi Seamus,
I'm putting my teacher hat on here, so big kudos for introducing books to the weenies early on.
Also if they are going to be bilingual it's really helpful to stick to one language e.g. you read in English as the native speaker and your partner can do the French side, but mixing between the languages actually causes more confusion and less ability to become bilingual. Believe me I am not speaking out of my bottom here, there is research to support this and as one who was brought up with effectively three languages in one household I came out speaking ONE, cos they were constantly mixing.

Anonymous said...

as a teacher and a parent, i couldn't have agreed more. READING is the first most important language skill that one has to acquire. if only some parents can see its importance in children's development......

Unknown said...

Nature or nurture? You are preaching to the converted here, Seamus.

I still love someone reading to me.

Kay Cooke said...

Those babies are just the Cutest!! Congratulations on becoming a Godparent.

S. Kearney said...

Three languages in the house?! :) Struth! Yes, I agree about the bilingual thing ... better to keep things orderly, so the little ones don't go getting all short-circuited. :)

Hear hear. Books as gifts seems like the best thing a godparent can do. There won't be electronic games, that's for sure! :)

Much much later in life you'll have your youngens tucking you in, reading lines to you from one of your books. It's a circle, Mavis! Go with it! :)

Aren't they just! :) I like to pretend I'm the father when I'm out and about with them in the pushchair! :)

Pallav said...

Congrats on becoming a godparent man!

I think the one on the right is going to be a very mischievous child when he grows up, I can see it in his eyes!

About reading books, humm, I never had any books in my house either, but i have loved them , I used to read anything I could get my hands on, even the newspaper in which groceries came wrapped in! Initially it were comics which got me reading though :)

Lot of findings there!

L.M.Noonan said...

Lee mentioned something a little while back that relates to the problems of bilingual reading and comprehension. I definately belong in the nurture camp and made sure my children accompanied me to the library every week and borrowed something. I also read to them until very recently. I believe it's absolutley essential to let them see and accept that this is normal behaviour -reading; and not something only 'some' people do.

unarex said...

Living in France, they'll eventually learn French. I think they need to be taught English and then they can... O what the hell do I know? I live in the U.S. where people only know one language and still manage to butcher it to pieces.

They are cute, I like babies as long as they're not mine.

S. Kearney said...

Hi Nothingman,
Thanks ... and I think you're right about the one on the right! :) And the value of comics has always been under-rated!

I like this nature versus nurture concept ... why haven't I heard this before. I have no doubts that you've done the right things for your kids, going on what I've seen on your site. :)

That's why we're godparents and not parents! :) No, seriously, there hasn't been a conscious decision either way ... never say never! :)

Pearl said...

congrats on the godchildren. Interesting poll results.

S. Kearney said...

Thanks. I never thought I would be a godparent! :)

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

That's wonderful!

They are very cute, glad their parents are color coding!

I think books are something we learn to love at some point in our lives... early, late... but much to my dismay, not everyone develops a love for them.

Good post, and congrats again!

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

Anonymous said...

Beautiful babies! Godparenthood has got to be just the best. My mother was French and spoke nothing else to me until I started school, my father English. I can still read in French and understand when spoken to, but can no longer speak that beautiful language.

S. Kearney said...

Hi Wanderlust,
Thanks. Yes, they are getting cuter and cuter as each day passes. I still can't tell them apart.

Hi Kat,
Thanks. It's the first time I've been asked to be a godparent, so I'm wrapped. What a shame you can no longer speak French, especially with a French mother. I wish I'd started learning younger and not at 29! Almost 10 years later though and my head just about manages! :-)

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