Today is World Book Day, when we celebrate reading and when our children are encouraged to dress up as their favourite book character in school. In the past, Joshua has simply worn his stripey onesie and has gone to school as one of his favourite characters – The Tiger Who Came to Tea! This is a book that he genuinely adores and he even fills in some final words like ‘tea’, ‘Daddy’s beer’ and ‘your cafe’ if you give him long enough. That is always the sign of a favourite, well read story for Joshua and it equally applies to familiar Hairy Maclairy and Mog stories.
As a young boy, Joshua adored books and would look at them for hours on end. One of his favourite activities was to stand in front of a mirror, holding the book up like a teacher to the mirror and waffling away in gibberish , or Joshua-ese as it was once called by a health professional, as though he were teaching a class. It always melted my heart whenever I saw that and I think I have some of that game on video somewhere. Then as he grew older he stopped ‘twaddling’ but would still enjoy sitting looking at books, endlessly looking at pictures and turning the pages for himself. Books were still a real source of pleasure to him, but they were used in a different way.
Sadly one of the complications of his brain surgery has been the loss of his fine motor skills in his right hand, which we were warned about. Pre-surgery we did not think he had any fine motor skills in his right hand and so were not worried by the inevitable loss of something that we did not think that he had. But we had under-estimated his ability to ‘prop’ with his right hand; he used to be able to hold a book in his right hand, while turning the pages with his left. But now his right hand is virtually useless, it can no longer hold a book or a guitar, to allow the left one to do the rest of the work. So his brain surgery has almost stolen all of his pleasure from books. But he does find a way to balance a book on his knees and can turn the pages with his left hand, but it is a much more precarious and unreliable process now. It means that hard backed books that flop open have now become easier to read as well as ones that have push buttons to make noises, rather than more traditional stories that fill his book shelves.
So today I will dress Joshua in another orange character for school and he will no doubt enjoy the fun of the admiration that he will attract, even though the concept of World Book Day will really go over his head. Joshua is a child that will probably never read, but that does not mean he cannot enjoy and celebrate the joy of books with his peers.