Ordering a personalised story book is not as simple as picking up a book in a bookstore. Here is why?

Placing an order for a personalised story book is like working with a designer for custom made outfit. Of course it is not as time consuming as the latter perhaps, but the feeling of satisfaction when the final product comes out is tremendous and worth all the effort.
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Picture Courtesy: Pixabay

 

At MerryGoBooks, we strive to personalise a story book with the objective of making the child feel important. In order to achieve that, we need to know every child’s unique interests, their reading level and who they would like to see in the book along with them. That requires a substantial amount of detail. But we are aware that people are busy and cannot be expected to think and write a lot of detail just to place an order. Keeping that in mind we have a really simple order form that you can finish filling in less than 5 mins. Interested? Sure, take a look. Click here Order Form

On the other hand if you feel the need to provide more details and prefer chatting about it, please wait until you receive the preliminary order summary. We can then add details to the basic summary and make the end product even more special. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Any Questions? Write to lakshmi.mitter@yahoo.com.

 

 

Personalised Story Books- Do they matter?

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Photo credit: MerryGoBooks

 

A variety of personalised story books are being made available today. If anything that is an indication of the fact that the concept is growing in popularity. There are a variety of personalised story books catering to a variety of children. What makes MerryGoBooks any different?

At MerryGoBooks, we strive to create a new story for each child. In other words the entire story is personalised according to a child’s likes and interests. For instance a 3 year old’s Mother wanted to create a book with her child and their dog. The child loves books and loves their dog. MerryGoBooks stepped up to the challenge and created a special story book for the little girl along with her dog. In the story, the dog wants to have fun with her but does not know what to do. The child comes up with ideas so that the dog can have fun. How more perfect can a birthday present be?

The Hero of the story

At MerryGoBooks we are very particular that the main character(s) are hero(es) who play a very important role in the story. They would be the ones taking the main decisions and solving problems. This we believe helps in building self esteem and a feeling of accomplishment. That feeling will motivate children to read the book over and over again, thus making it a very special present.

Specific interests

Every child has very unique interests. A book that is liked by one child need not be liked by another child. Some may like adventure, while some other may like mystery. Keeping that in mind, MerryGoBooks creates a story keeping in mind each child’s specific interests.

Child have very vivid imagination and know exactly what they want when it comes to their characters in personalised story books. Some have wanted to be superheroes, some wanted to princesses, some wanted a magician in the story and so on.

Reading levels

We at MerryGoBooks recognise that children even in the same age group may have different reading levels depending on a whole lot of factors. Thereby the story is written accordingly to ensure that interest is retained.

A special feeling 

Take a step back and try to recollect some occasion where you saw your name printed on something meant for you. Most probably you would have felt special and happy.  The same is true of children too. In the storybooks created by MerryGoBooks,    the name(s) of the child(ren) appear in the story and their character in the story is doing something very important. Even better, the concept leaves room for favourite people like parents, grandparents, friends, cousins, pets etc to appear in the story. Needless to say, the personalised story book specially created for you, becomes a treasure to be saved for eternity.

Note: Since each book is created from the scratch, it takes time. When you place an order please provide at least 2 weeks time. If you are lucky you could get it sooner!

 

 

 

Have you done everything in the book to encourage your child to read and yet, is there no impact?

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Image Courtesy: Pixabay

You might have taken all the recommended measures to encourage your children to read, such as reading a book yourself everyday, leaving books around for easy access, planning frequent library visits and so on? And yet, your child does not pick up a book to read for pleasure. If yes, revisit the times when you have taken measures to instil the reading habit in your child. Have you influenced the choice of books your child sees or reads? Do you let your child choose and then offer your opinion even if it is a negative opinion? For instance let us say your child likes comics. While you feel that he or she should move on to serious fiction/non-fiction ‘fat’ books that you read when you were younger or something that you think is apt for your kid’s age. In such a situation do you dissuade them from reading comics and dismiss them as not great reading material or something else?

I did all of the above. Sometimes, I would think that I should let my kids read what they want, but somewhere I could not help letting my own preferences creep in from time to time. Each time I did that, we would go back to square one and all the effort to make them to pick up something, anything at all to read for pleasure would go out of the door.

Did you know comics are actually good? 

Research indicates that comics are great for struggling readers as it acts as a different medium. There are pictures to break the monotony of text. As for experienced readers, comics could pose as an interesting challenge as most often comics use more difficult words that is otherwise used.

When they actually pick up something to read like a comic, it is important not to dissuade them by saying that comics are not suitable for ‘good reading’.

More information about why comics might actually be good for your child available on this article by Lucas Maxwell-A Friendly Reminder That Comics actually Help Reading

As long as they read age appropriate content, any book should be fine. Atleast they are reading…

Sadly many children associate reading with studies and performance and not for pleasure. So if they pick up a humourous book or a graphic novel or any book of their choice to relax and read and you insist that they read something that you think is more appropriate in terms of enhancing knowledge, think twice.

If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun  for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

 

 

Personalised Story Books and Reading for Pleasure

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Personalised story books are relatively new in concept but are gaining a lot of momentum. The concept means that the reader can appear as the protagonist in a storybook.  MerryGoBooks brings to you information about the potential benefits.

Great way to enable children to grasp new information and new vocabulary

Research in the education field indicates that children who are read personalised story books tend to pick up more words than from books that are not personalised. The greater extent of personalisation, the more keen they are to listen and grasp information as the story is being read. The reason is obvious. Not only do they like to hear their names appear in the story, but there are several favourite things that can appear in the story making it more familiar and less daunting to understand. Reading thereby becomes an enjoyable activity.

Attracting and retaining attention of small children

Mrs. Radhika Mitter, a kindergarten teacher (who later qualified to become a special educator), speaking to READING JOURNEY BY MERRYGOBOOKS, tells us how adding the names of children in the  stories that she told them, helped her to get and retain the attention of even the hyper active and children with attention deficiency problems. The desire to hear their names in the story and to be doing something important in the story helped in enhancing their self esteem and piqued their interest in knowing what happens in the story. She used this idea to teach them a variety of things in a way that they could understand.

Helps in encouraging children to speak up

Knowing that they are an important part of the narrative, makes them feel important thus easing off tension. Being a lot more relaxed and more involved in the story itself, children forget all apprehensions and begin to contribute even, over a period of time.

Helps in bonding with parents

Personalised story books that leave room for a child’s favourite people to appear in a a story such as parents, make it another reason for parent and child bonding. A child who has just started to read on his own, may like to read his dialogues while the parents read theirs. Reading thereby is not exercise that needs to be done and ticked off each day but a fun activity that involves child and parents.

Children love role play

If you observe the way many children play with toys, some sort of role play generally happens. They enjoy playing different roles. So when it comes to personalised books created by MerryGoBooks there are generally a lot of dialogues. The stories written strive to make every child play an important role in the story either in the form of an action or a relevant thought that got spoken at the right time.

Build confidence in reading

These books have the power to encourage reluctant readers to develop an interest in  reading as well as the confidence to eventually read on their own. This is made possible by making reading a less daunting activity by including many familiar elements in the story.

A meaningful birthday present

What could be a better surprise than a personalised story book specially written for your child capturing special memories with favourite people in a theme that interests your child.

More about the books created by MerryGoBooks in the About Section

If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun  for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

Who doesn’t like stories?

There is something magical about stories. They have the power to retain the attention of any child, provided they are told in the right manner. They have the capacity to teach children anything they must learn.

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Stories have the ability to reach out and comfort a child in distress and let him or her know that they are not alone. They let children know about things that happen, happy as well as sad. They enable children to be spectators to conflicts and give them the luxury of being able to decide what’s good and what’s bad. Above all, they act as a bonding force that brings parent and child together; grandparent and grandchild together; teacher and student together and so on.

A beautiful way to experience different emotions 

Reading a story with your child, observing their reactions to different aspects of the story, watching them smile when they see funny illustrations, hearing them laugh at a joke in a story, answering their questions and so on is an experience that you would have gone through especially if you are a person who loves books. For a child, it is a window to a world he or she doesn’t know. It is a safe place to explore, enjoy and ask questions.

“We experience the emotions in the story together. We laugh together, we feel sad together and so on. These emotional experiences bind us together.” says Mrs.Poonam Sethi, a school teacher with several years of experience teaching very young children. She makes it a point to always start the day in class with a story. She says it is during this time that she develops an emotional bond with her students whom she affectionately calls as ‘her children’.

The first step to a life long journey of reading for pleasure

Children who are read to early on, begin to associate the reading activity as a fun activity and when it comes to reading the same favourite books on their own, it is less daunting as they are familiar with the story and perhaps with many of the words as well. Speaking to Reading Journey about the importance of reading and telling children stories, Mrs.Poonam Sethi, sums it up most aptly by saying,

“These foundation years are most important for absorbing new words learnt through stories and oral language, help retain the words for use later. Enhancing listening skills and comprehension helps children to understand and follow instructions in class.”

If you would like read more about she has to say on encouraging children to read for pleasure, the full interview is available to read on Reading Journey by MerryGoBooks

Enriches imagination

Stories enable children to imagine a world different from what they see around them. This helps in making them more curious which paves the way to productive learning. Illustrations in children’s books enable them to imagine the unknown world and understand the story better.

Why is enriching imagination important?

Imagination is instrumental in enhancing creative thinking. Children learn a lot from books based on their imagination. One of the reasons they enjoy a story is because they like what they are able to imagine. This inevitably gets translated in play, especially when they are in the process of creating something new. It could be something that they build or even a story that they make up to play either with themselves or with friends. Imagination is what makes play more fun. Imagination makes learning new things fun. In the long run it even helps children remember things better.

The ability of imagination as a tool to enable children remember things easily comes in hand especially when they are beginning to read. They are familiar with the sounds of words and have a picture in their minds about what the word means. As a result trying to read a word that they already know so much about becomes a lot less daunting.

 

Children when familiar with the sounds of words and have a picture in their minds about what the word means, trying to read a word that they already know so much about, becomes a lot less daunting. 

 

A great way to relax

Curling up with a book at the end of the day is something an avid reader would love to do. Nothing works better than an interesting and entertaining story to relax your nerves at the end of the day. Growing up isn’t easy and children definitely need some quiet time to simply unwind. Bedtime story sessions are great way to instil the love of reading in children.

Continue reading

Some children simply hate reading! Here is why.

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Illustrated by Lakshmi Mitter

 

Jaishree decided to accept the fact that although she followed every recommendation in the book to encourage children to read, her daughter did not pick up the reading habit. A voracious reader herself, this was something that was extremely difficult for her to accept. But having hit a wall, she succumbed to the feeling that she can’t do anything more. Her daughter did not like reading the way she did. Period.

What did she do to encourage her daughter to read? 

  • She read to her every night
  • She drove her to storytelling sessions, even if they were far away.
  • She took her daughter to libraries and bookshops. She asked the child to choose books.
  • She left books at arm’s length everywhere in the house
  • Being an avid reader herself, her daughter saw her read everyday.

What went wrong?

  • She expected her daughter to pick up reading as she enjoyed it and wanted her daughter to be the same.
  • She insisted on the child reading on her own after she turned 6. She got upset each time when the child said that she did not want to read on her own.
  • She felt peer pressure. As adults we too succumb to peer pressure. When you see you friend’s children reading Harry Potter where as your child who perhaps is comparable in age does not want to move away from comics and videogames.
  •  She did not give the child enough time to learn the new task. Reading is after all a difficult skill. Try learning a new language and try reading fluently right away. Can you do it?

What does research say?

  • Children are afraid to read on their own
  • They worry that they will be quizzed later
  • They worry that they will be criticised, worse get laughed at.
  • They hate it when they are compared
  • They feel peer pressure and try to avoid reading when they fall behind in comparison to peers.
  • They are yet to find books that capture their imagination.

 

Books and blogposts on the subject of children reading can only give us generalised tips. However it is up to each one of us as parents to devise a way that is suitable to our child. It is a trial and error method. Some methods may work while others may not. Every child is different. Approach to independent reading therefore varies too.

If you would like to contribute about your experience with enabling your child to read on his or her own, for pleasure, please feel to write to me at lakshmi.mitter@yahoo.com. Your experience might just help someone who is working hard to enable their children to enjoy reading. 

 

If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun  for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

 

How to make use of pictures in children’s books to make reading fun?

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Pictures attract and motivate a child to pick up a book, as much as an interesting title does. Children dwell in pictures. As a child, I used to spend hours gazing at one picture, and imagining myself in that scene. I hope kids still do that, in spite of tv and videogames.”- Ashok Rajagopalan (author and illustrator of over 500 children’s books)

 

Toddlers constantly learnt new things by looking at things, touching and feeling them. As they grow older and begin to appreciate small stories, pictures take over as a means to learn new things. Pictures give context to the story that you are reading and enable children to understand the story better. If they like the story, they may want the same book several times. (Here is why-Why Do Children Love Reading the Same Book Many Times?)

Pictures help in learning to read

Keeping in mind that pictures/illustrations have been predominant in a child’s life from early on, they come in use even when it is time for them to learn to read on their own. When they learn to connect the pictures with the words that they are trying to read, the text for the first time seems to make sense. They gradually understand the purpose of text which is to fill in the gaps in the story that illustrations sometimes cannot show. Will Terry an illustrator with several years of experience explains it so aptly that it will change the way you approach the ‘reading challenge’ in children.

 

“Personally, I was one of those reluctant readers. If it wasn’t for the illustrations, I may have never loved to read. I pretended to read and just looked at pictures. Sometimes I would look at an illustration and not quite understand what was going on or why a character was doing what he was doing,” Terry says. “I had to force myself to go through the words and realize, ‘Oh, that’s what is going on.’ . . . It is our job to put the reader into the world that the author has created in a way that will make them want to read the text or make them want to find out more.”

 

Familiarity of the story through pictures enables them to recognise some words that can be derived from the context provided by pictures. This goes a long way in boosting their confidence and motivates them to try reading more on their own. First of all familiarity of the story makes the task less daunting. Secondly the presence of pictures as a helping hand makes the process a lot easier.

Find out more about how humourous illustrations can motivate children to read for pleasure from none other than Ashok Rajagopalan himself. Refer “In conversation with Ashok Rajagopalan” on READING JOURNEY

 

If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun  for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

 

Does Your Child Read On His Own?

The internet would offer you a variety of suggestions about how you can encourage your child to read on his or her own. But have you tried asking your child what he or she wants to read?

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Some children love books while others don’t. In my opinion as a parent the reason is simple. Those who don’t like books have not found the right ones to read. They have not found the ones that match their rich imagination and interests.  Thankfully today there are a variety of children’s literature being published, making it possible for any child with access to books to learn practically anything that fascinates them. The key is to provide easy access to books.

Why buy new books when my kid is not reading the ones at home?

We were waiting for a book fair to open at our apartment building. A mother was hurriedly walking away with her son, who obviously wanted to see the books at the book fair. When he kept insisting she replied, “You first read the books at home!” We all assumed that the boy loves books and she had bought quite a bit and buying more wasn’t an option. As if she read our minds, she smiled sheepishly and said, “He does not read at all. But keeps asking for books.”

After she left, one of the kids waiting with us informed us that the boy loved stories but needed help to read. “At school he reads well with the librarian’s help.” She also added, “It is so much fun visiting the library as Mrs.Sheela, the librarian lets us pick any book we want to read.”

 

It is so much fun visiting the library as Mrs.Sheela,
the librarian lets us pick any book we want to read.”

 

Curious I asked her if this boy also picked up books enthusiastically in the library. According to girl, he loves funny books and makes an effort to read with the librarian’s help.

Transitioning from picture books to early reader books

As parents, as our children grow up we tend to worry if their reading preferences also are growing accordingly. If one’s child prefers simple picture books even after learning to read fluently, it is natural to worry. Take the example of Mrs. John (an acquaintance) who is a voracious reader and it is absolute delight to listen to her insights about stuff that she has ever read. She told me with a lot of concern that access to books is never an issue in their household. Both parents read a lot and books tend to lie around here and there. Along with their books she said that she left children’s books of different kinds too. So when the parents picked up a book to read, her child had a variety to choose from. He had learnt the basics of reading and was quite comfortable. Being a voracious reader herself, it was hard for her to accept that her child wasn’t “really” into reading.  “He goes back to baby books! I keep telling him to move on!” she complained, looking visibly disturbed.

 

Being a voracious reader herself, it was hard for her to accept that her child wasn’t “really” into reading.  “He goes back to baby books! I keep telling him to move on!” she complained, looking visibly disturbed.

 

What went wrong? The answer is nothing! The child is on the right track!

The transition from picture books to illustrated books is a slow one. Children below the age of four or maybe even five years, would prefer picture books, in other words, books that have very little text and a lot of pictures which they can observe while the adult reads to them. That’s when the love for books, in general and story books in particular, begin.

Once the child starts to learn to read in the school, it is so easy to get excited and dream about how your child would sit reading for hours during holidays, just the way you did when you were a kid. Well that’s what I imagined:) But, if things were different for you as well, welcome aboard!

First of all, you most probably will not remember how it was for you when you first started to read. Second, your sweet memories of reading books would revolve around your favourite books that kept you hooked for hours and not any book that some adult imposed upon you to read.

 

Your sweet memories of reading books would revolve around your favourite books that kept you hooked for hours and not any book that some adult imposed upon you to read.

 

Reading on one’s own, takes time. From a child’s perspective – a huge step! As parents we definitely do have a very enjoyable role to play if we can give the child, the time and the support to learn how to read first and then enjoy something that is so difficult to learn. For starters, here is a link that helped me a great deal in the process.

Remember your child has learnt several things in the first few years of his or her life by simplying observing what is happening around and pictures from books. Not from ‘text’. To be expected to lose that habit overnight and read a book without pictures like a pro, is a  tall order!

The best way to let the transition happen is to allow the child to observe the pictures first before you push him or her to read. Yeah, sometimes you are pressed for time or simply lack patience. But nothing comes easy, does it? I tried this method and realized that I also enjoyed the picture book even more. Over time, it became an activity that my son and I would look forward to. We would choose a book together, talk about the pictures and then slowly move on to the text. Gradually my son began to improve and a year later he became quite proficient in reading on his own.

Talking to your child to find out what kind of books he or she wants to read.

I quickly imagined that he would hide himself behind books whenever he is bored and the road ahead would be smooth. Well it turned out that road ahead wasn’t as smooth as I thought it would be. His best friend at school was reading Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and so he wanted to read too. I was super excited as I used to love her books as a child and enjoyed Secret Seven so much. I, of course, forgot I was much older, almost nine when I got on to those books.

With all due credit he did give it a try. But that was short lived and although his friend had finished all the volumes of Secret Seven, my son wasn’t even interested in finishing one volume. We then had a chat with him one day about the importance of reading and asked him if Secret Seven fascinates him. He replied, “No, there are no pictures. I want pictures.” That chat helped and we set out to find “illustrated books” – books that have few pictures and more text. We went book shopping together. He spent considerable time browsing books and picked up a few. Now, any time he finds himself bored and not having any ideas to play, he settles with one of his favourite illustrated books.

There are no hard and fast rules about what works. Enjoy the process of exploring and discovering the world of books without pressure. You will surprised by the results.

If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun  for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.

 

What is the right age to start reading books aloud to your children?

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Illustrated by Lakshmi Mitter

 

 

The short answer is as early as possible. Babies are naturally curious. Anything colourful catches their attention. This is possibly the best time to introduce board books, with one bright picture per page. Needless to say that these books are made in such a way that they can endure any kind of abuse they maybe subject to, in a baby’s hands. What this does is to make books a part of their life, just as food is, parental love is, sleeping is and so on. Books become a source of information, a window to the outside world, so to speak. They learn new words by looking at pictures and hearing the sounds in the voice of a mom or dad. While it helps in bonding, it also instils the love for books early on.

Babies know how to choose!

Give your babies a choice of 4-5 books and let them choose the book they want to see. In all probability they would end up choosing the same book over a period of time and you will call that book, your baby’s “favourite” book. After all they are learning a new language and that needs repetition irrespective of how old you are! Read more on why they do that on  “Why Do Children Love Reading The Same Book Many Times?”

 

Showing a book to a baby is not the same as coaching your child early on for competitive exams.

 

One may argue that showing books to a baby is as good as pressurising the baby to grow up fast and try to learn stuff that are way beyond his or her age. Yes, it would be if you read to a baby story books meant for 3 years and above. Showing a book to a baby is not the same as coaching your child early on for competitive exams. This is very different as by reading a book aloud to your baby, you are instilling curiosity, setting aside time to spend with your child, to simply  have fun and bond over the process.

Babies are fresh and are starting on a clean slate. As they grow, their ability to absorb information from the outside world, only increases. If there is nothing to satisfy that growing need to absorb more and more information from the outside world, it most likely will die down, thus having a significant impact on learning ability in the growing years.

When to stop reading aloud?

It is easy to give up the reading aloud habit when the child starts to read on his or her own. It seems like continuing to read aloud will restrict the move to independent reading. On the contrary, research in the field points out that reading aloud to your child although he or she knows how to read, helps a great deal in enhancing comprehension abilities, language skills, the right pronunciation,  a room for discussing views and opinions and above all the feeling of still bonding over parents over an all time favourite activity.

 

If it bothers you that the reading aloud activity will prevent the child from reading on her own, try converting it to a shared reading activity.

 

If it bothers you that the reading aloud activity will prevent the child from reading on his or her own, try converting it to a shared reading activity. What this means is that you pick books that have more than one character, preferably two. You could take one role and your child could take another. The perfect books for this kind of reading activity is Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie Series. These books have two important characters who are both equally adorable. The story is always a conversation and hence allows role play. What this achieves is that your child gets to practice his or her reading aloud skills as well as have the satisfaction of being read to. This goes a long way in making children more confident about reading. After all reading is an essential skill that one simply cannot do without.

If you would like to be part of a reading community that discusses about making reading fun  for children, MerryGoBooks has a quickly growing community on Facebook- THE READING JOURNEY. Please feel free to join in and talk about your experiences in this regard, ask for book recommendations, suggestions to get your child interested in reading and so on. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Why Do Children Love Reading The Same Book Many Times?

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A book is a gift you can open again and again. —Garrison Keillor

 

I must have read the story of the Three Little Piggies about 1000 times easily with my son. No I am not exaggerating. It is possible if your child chooses the same book several times over several years, even after he has learnt to read simple books on his own.

Of course it is a brilliant story but to get read 1000 times? This book initially started off as an entertaining story. I used to change my voice, make funny sounds and we would laugh together. As we got older, the humour got old but there was so much depth of character in each pig. How the first two thought they knew it all and looked down upon the 3rd for taking so much time to build a solid house. We talked about how building strong things takes time. We talked about the foolish wolf who did not know when to give up and instead fell in to the cauldron of hot, boiling water. Later we even observed that stone was stronger than sticks and straw that the first two pigs used. So much learnt from one story book that we enjoyed reading together again and again.

 

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. —Vera Nazarian