It's fair to say that life in our house can be pretty chaotic...with 3 children under the age of 4 in the house, it tends to be loud and there is always something going on...downtime isn't a concept we're very familiar with!
One thing I am very conscious of is that my biggest boy, at 3 years old, is now at a stage where he really needs some one on one time...time to focus on helping him with his letter recognition, his counting, his shapes and just time to relax away from the noise and chaos of his baby brothers, to have some bonding time with us.
The way we incorporate this into our everyday routine is to make sure that we have a bedtime story every day - it's been part of our routine ever since he was a baby and throughout the arrival of his baby brothers, it was the one thing I was determined we wouldn't let slip - I look forward to this bonding time with him just as much as he does, and it really helps to calm him down ready for a good nights sleep too.
Tyne has a real love of books and gets so excited about finding something new to read, of course he has his favourite books which we revisit over and over again...but I have to admit, I get a little tired of reading Funnybones for the 7 millionth time!
A few weeks ago, we were given the chance to try out a new story book from self-published author Mark Johnson and illustrated by Louise Dunford- having never read a self published book before I was quite unsure of what to expect from the quality of the print and its illustrations, and intrigued to see what Tyne would make of it - but honestly if I hadn't have known it was self published, I would never have guessed as its appearance and quality were just like any other...I'm not sure what I expected, but I was proven wrong regardless!
The Garden Of The Year is a lovely story all about a little girl named Caitlin who loves to help her Grandpa Fred in his garden, in this particular story Caitlin discovers the friendly tools that Grandpa Fred uses such as Derek The Watering Can and Suzie Spade, and together they work hard to enter Grandpa Fred's garden into the Garden Of The Year competition.
Tyne really enjoyed this story and loved the way that the garden tools were brought to life with faces and names, it even got him talking about possibly starting to grow some veg in our own garden.
The story is written in an easy to read rhyming form, which is something that Tyne always enjoys...and I prefer this style too as it makes it easier to read aloud and keep interesting! It is a perfect length for children aged 2-7 and would be a wonderful book for early readers too.
What I love about the book is that it encourages children to take an interest in nature, getting out into the garden and growing vegetables - it fits in well with parts of Key Stage 1 of the national curriculum, and provides lots of opportunities for discussing how things grow as well as opportunities to discuss shapes and numbers too...for example Tyne loved to point out the carrots growing in the ground and count out the apples in the trees whilst we read the story.
The arrival of this book coincided with a bout of illness in our house, which saw the 3 children spending the weekend feeling extremely under the weather and us spending many a sleepless night trying to entertain them at 3 am when they couldn't sleep...so we read the story over and over again, and I was amazed to find that even Noah (19 months old) sat listening throughout the whole story and seemed to enjoy it.
This Christmas I have heard a lot about the importance of supporting small businesses, and I think it's important not to forget about self-published authors too - Mark is a 44 year old father of two daughters who based this story around his own experiences with his grandfathers (both named Fred!) who taught him all about vegetable growing - now Mark enjoys growing veggies with his own daughters and wanted to encourage other children to get out into the fresh air and learn about nature too.
Mark has lots more adventures planned for Derek the Watering Can, Grandpa Fred and Caitlin which we would love to read!
If you like to read with your little ones and feel that they'd benefit from developing an interest in nature, gardening and growing their own veggies...I highly recommend this book.
You can find out more about Fred's Shed Books here
The book is currently on sale for the lower price of £5.00 for a limited time only and makes a lovely stocking filler...not only encouraging an interesting in reading and nature in your children but also helping to support a self-published fledgling author too, to buy a copy from Amazon, click here
Mark Johnson, author of the Fred's Shed series, is kindly giving away signed copies of The Garden Of The Year to 5 lucky Sparkles & Stretchmarks readers - to be in with a chance of winning, please click here!
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