James' reading hazily comes more in to focus by the day. If he tries hard he can read whole sentences from his Kipper & Floppy books. More often though he'll flop back and whine that he wants to be read to - as long as I talk him through letter sounds and we construct one or two words per session, I'm not too stressed. He does everything in his own time.
The books he enjoys being read to him are becoming far more complex however. He's starting to really enjoy Pooh stories - much more so than Nora. He's been sitting happily through the Horrid Henry stories since Christmas. Nora was complaining that she'd read all her books and they're all boring, so I picked out The Iron Man from their shelves (repackaged as "The Iron Giant" which is an annoyingly more memorable title), knowing she'sd never looked at it.
As I held the beautiful second hand paperback in my hand, with the name of that wonderful writer on the front, looking at the kids sitting on the bed waiting to read something and looking sceptical, I felt a teary choke in my voice. This was the first time in their lives they were going to hear the story.
And here's the thing. I realised I could barely remember it. The dragon section had totally obliterated itself from my brain and I'd been infected by the delightful, but almost entirely unrelated film, called of course, "The Iron Giant". And another thing, reading Ted Hughes' beautiful words (you have to read it out loud, it's like a feast for your aural senses), I was struck again by something I'm slowly learning as I go along - how different it is being a boy. To a four year old James, this was a wonderful story. A massive, elemental metal man, eating old cars and tractors, schlunching across fields and muddy farms, chewing barbed wire with glowing blue / red / green eyes like massive lamps. And the story of a brave boy, but a brave boy with compassion, who senses and feels that something is wrong. Then the whole thing turns in to a huge, enormous, stupendous, crazy story about a giant dragon the size of a planet! How much more BOY could you get!
He loved it. Nora loved it. It's completely bloody fantastic, and I would strongly recommend you buying it immediately to read aloud to your kids.