Biff, Chip and Kipper – Learning to read

My daughter started reception in 2014 and took to school fairly well. There were tears at times, but we were blessed with an excellent teacher who made the transition as stress free as possible for all of the children.

I was really excited about her learning to read, we’d read lots of books to her, and she was interested in books and looked at them on her own and at bedtime, but I’d made the decision not to teach her to read myself before she started school as I didn’t want to confuse her. She knew some words by sight and could write her name, but I’d steered clear of trying to teach her too much.

She learnt phonics (as I had done at school too, though I think that was pretty radical when I started school in 1982!) and quickly understood how to sound out words, first she bought home books without words and made up a story from the pictures (this was fun!) and slowly she started to bring home books with more and more words in until we got to the Biff, Chip and Kipper books. I loved them! Though wtaf were the parents thinking when they named their children? And calling the dog Floppy?! I think that was for the parents! I would look forward to Friday each week to see what amazing adventures the children would get up to. I also loved the brilliant 80’s cars, fashion and interiors that the books sported! But my absolute favourite was when my daughter started bringing home the Magic Key books, so many crazy adventures – the only problem was that we didn’t get the books in order which was ok sometimes but we read one once when Floppy gets lost and doesn’t come back with them… We never got the next book, and didn’t get many Biff, Chip and Kipper books after that. I still wonder what happened to Floppy and how they got him back. If anybody knows please do let me know! So yes, I know some parents can’t stand Biff, Chip and Kipper but I will always look on them fondly!

Suggesting books to your reading age child

My child is now 7 and an avid reader, when she first started reading on her own I suggested books that I had loved and read as a child, and she read them, and then we got to chat about them afterwards which was magical. I loved seeing what she had enjoyed and got from the story, and how it had differed from what I had got. The suggestions I made that she loved are:

  • Milly Molly Mandy / Joyce Lankaster Brisley
  • The Mrs Pepperpot stories / Alf Proysen
  • The Ramona Quimby books / Beverly Cleary (and then all of her back catalogue)
  • The Superfudge book / Judy Bloom (and all her age appropriate back catalogue – no Forever yet!)
  • My Naughty Little Sister / Dorothy Edwards
  • Famous Five / Enid Blyton
  • Roald Dahl books (she said Matilda was the best book she had ever read!)

Not everything that I had read as a child went down as well as the above, she is most certainly not up for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe yet, which was my absolute favourite book as a child. She says she’ll read it when she’s 8 though, I hope she does. Especially as I’d love her to read The Magician’s Nephew which I read after reading the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and it just blew me away, I still think about it now! I won’t force it upon her though – I want her to think of reading as a joy and not a chore, and something that stays with her throughout her life as it has done for me.

She reads other things which she chooses herself; books that hadn’t been published when I was a child, such as the David Walliams books and the Daisy Meadows fairy books. She likes different genres to me, loves books about animals, and especially horses which I was never into as a child. I tried to read Black Beauty so many times and never got into it!

I love suggesting books and authors to her, but I also enjoy watching her explore and widen her own tastes. It’s a wonderful adventure to experience for us both.

My 2016 Reading

This year I have again only read books by women as I have said in previous blog posts. I also read my first ever Angela Carter novel… I don’t know what took me so long, but in a way I’m glad I’ve come to her fairly late as I’ve only read 3 of her novels so far and still have lots more to go. I’m resisting the urge to read them all at once in a greedy glut, and spacing them with others in between.

2016 was a good reading year for me, I’ve gone for quality rather than quantity, which I think is a good thing in all aspects of life! I started off the year with The Magic Toyshop and was just blown away by it, just everything, especially the tragedy of Melanie and the other children being ripped from their comfortable lives with their loving parents  into the cold chaos of their Uncle’s house. I was really struck by the adjustment that Melanie had to undertake especially at the age she was when if she had been able to stay in her old life she would have been able to just focus on herself and the transition from girl to women, but as she was transplanted into an environment where there was time for that luxury it had to happen along with everything else that she had to deal with. I then went on to read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters which I enjoyed, but not as much as The Paying Guests which I absolutely loved when I read it last year. I won’t give a critique of every book I read here now, but I will rate them in order of how much I enjoyed them below!

  1. Wise Children / Angela Carter (LOVED everything about it my favourite Angela Carter novel so far)
  2. The Bricks That Built the Houses / Kate Tempest (I think these 2 should actually be joint 1st as I loved this so much too. But for very different reasons, I could relate so closely to this novel, the language, the people, the setting. I grew up in the same area as it is set, and Kate Tempest has captured it so so succinctly. It is an excellent book)
  3. Americanah / Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Another excellent book,  this is the 2nd novel I’ve read by Adichie Half of a Yellow Sun being the first. I learnt so much, and was completely absorbed by the story and the different locations in which it took place)
  4. Nights at the Circus / Angela Carter (It took me a long time to get through this, not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because it’s so epic. Carter’s writing is so descriptive and dense (in a good way) that it takes time to read her novels (especially this one) I loved Fevvers and her wings and the magic that surrounded the story. Magic realism is a genre I’m new to, but I’m loving it!)
  5. The Little Stranger / Sarah Waters (as above, I enjoyed it, I liked the time period it was set in, the birth of the NHS and seeing how it affected the existing doctors was interesting. However, I read The Paying Guests the year before and loved it so much I don’t think this could have ever stood up to that for me)
  6. Hot Milk / Deborah Levy (this was on the short list for the Booker Prize this year, I read it during the summer which was good as it’s set in the summer! It was an interesting and diverting read)
  7. Loitering with Intent / Muriel Spark ( I had high expectations of this book as I loved The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and I also love mid 20th century books written by and about women, especially Barbara Pym. This was good, but didn’t quite live up to my expectations especially at the beginning, but I did enjoy it more towards the end)