Guest Post: A great bedtime read

Todays guest post is by Joan Clarke a busy working mother and children’s taxi driver who dashes through life juggling all that comes her way. She often wishes there was an extra hour each day – which she would use for sleeping.

Last week, while looking for my moisturiser which I apply religiously, I discovered a pile of books that I’d carefully selected from the local library for my 11 year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. But had they read any of them? Of course not.

Getting the kids into reading can sometimes feel like pushing water uphill. Of course, finding the right kind of book that’ll get them hooked makes all the difference. But if your kids are anything like ours, that book may seem a little illusive. Harry Potter never seemed to work his magic for our two. And neither did a whole collection of other books from a range of outstanding writers. So when my son finally brought home a book from the school library, I wasn’t expecting him to suddenly discover the joys of reading. Until, that is, he refused last week to come down from his bedroom for supper because he was far too busy. I looked at my husband and we both blithely assumed that he was busy on his computer playing something called Mine Craft which seems to be the latest craze for boys of his age. But on poking my head round his door I was absolutely gobsmacked to find him with his nose buried in a book. The book, a slim volume with a rather distinctive cover of a tree silhouetted against the sun, was entitled ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds.’ It’s been written by Alex Pearl and it’s his first book. I know this much because I was so intrigued that I decided to find out more by searching for it online. There’s a website: which gives you some background to the story, which in itself is interesting.

The story revolves around an 11-year-old school boy, Roy Nuttersley, whose parents are the parents from hell. To cut a long story short, Roy who also suffers at the hands of school bullies, turns to looking after the birds in his garden, and in return the birds hatch an elaborate scheme to protect their new friend. But like all grand plans, this is blown off course and both Roy and his arch school bully, Harry Hodges, inadvertently find themselves setting out on a voyage of discovery, which for Roy culminates in an unexpected and brilliant revelation that keeps you glued to the book until the very last page.

I think what makes this story so enjoyable for kids is its old-fashioned warmth and humour. Some of the details are really very funny, and the Nuttersley parents are larger than life and quite ridiculous, and there’s nothing more appealing to children than a pair of ridiculous adults.
Our son finished the book over the course of five evenings and he was late down for supper for every one of them. And now that he’s finished it, he’s reading it to his younger sister.

Oh, and the other really nice thing I noticed about the book is that its author is very generously giving his royalty to Centrepoint, the charity for homeless young people.

So there you go. If you have children who don’t read, I’d recommend you get them a copy. If they’re anything like our kids, they’ll also be having their supper cold for the next five evenings.


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