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The Dad Diary
Edwin McGreal

There are fewer more blissful moments at home these days than when you’re reading a children’s book with Éamon on your left arm and Frankie on your right, both agog at every line on every page.
Now these can be fleeting moments too – a passing tractor will have Éamon rushing away excitedly while if Frankie hears anything remotely resembling a sweet wrapper, she’s gone at breakneck speed to investigate.
Many people remind us that these golden moments, with the kids sitting on your lap while you read to them, are fleeting in a wider context too. It won’t be too many years before they’ll be too big for it, so we’re determined to enjoy it.
The kids love books, and that’s great. It’s a wonderful activity at any time of day, but especially when they need to unwind before bed – and with the long evenings and playing outside later every day, they do need to unwind, believe me.
Reading is a gift you will have forever and it opens the door to their imagination, develops their language and prepares them for reading and writing when they get a bit older.
Frankie (4) starts national school in September. She can’t read yet, but you wouldn’t think it if you came into the sitting room and saw her ‘reading’ one of her favourite books. She has the words all learned from us reading them to her. Éamon (2) is following in her wake, well able to finish sentences in his favourite books too.
Julia Donaldson, the popular children’s author, is a big, big hit in our house. Her books are magical, a joy for kids to absorb and for adults to read.
She’s best known perhaps for ‘The Gruffalo’, a mesmerising tale of a little mouse who escapes from the claws of other animals by creating a fantastical monster called The Gruffalo, only to discover he’s real. I love it, the kids absolutely adore it!
They are big fans too of other Donaldson classics like ‘Stick Man’, ‘The Highway Rat’, ‘The Snail and the Whale’, ‘Zog’ and ‘Room on the Broom’. In truth, there’s not many of her books we haven’t read.
Éamon loves reciting ‘The Highway Rat’, laughing all through as we hear all about the dastardly rodent who stole ‘all the travellers’ food’.
They have around 100 books in the sitting room alone, in two big boxes, and they love being able to pick them out themselves and come over to you with a reading request.
Trying to keep them to just one book before bed is often difficult, but it’s one battle I’m not too bothered about fighting.
I’m not sure how I’ll manage to hold three of them for reading when Séimí is big enough, but as problems go, it is best kind.

In his fortnightly column, Edwin McGreal charts the ups and downs of the biggest wake-up call of his life: parenthood.