Reading To Our Kids

What my wife & I are reading to our four kids

Sometimes I forget some details…

Wintersmith (Discworld, #35)

Links to this book

Reading to: Alanah (9) & Sabrina (3).

Sometimes I forget some details of a book I’ve read.  As I mentioned previously, Wintersmith introduces some topics or romantic relationships and does mention sex. As preface I should mention that we’ve yet to have ‘the talk’ with our eldest (9 year old) daughter.  She understands the reproductive process biologically, we’ve explained the whole ovulation, fertilisation and gestation process.  She’s seen pictures of unborn children.  She even knows that the male provides the sperm while the female has the eggs.  What we haven’t explained (mostly because she just hasn’t asked yet) is the, ah, delivery mechanism (*ahem*).

So anyway, the previous reference to sex went by without comment, but it was a pretty quick reference and she may have just missed it.  However as we went on the following night, I was reading along when I came up to this next bit, which I had completely forgotten about:

Things were a little better when Tiffany had warmed up. She wondered
how much brandy Nanny had added to the milk. Nanny had done one for
herself, with probably some milk added to the brandy.

“Isn’t this nice and cozy,” said Nanny after a while.

“Is this going to be the talk about sex?” said Tiffany.

“Did anyone say there was going to be one?” said Nanny innocently.

“I kind of got the feeling,” said Tiffany. “And I know where babies come
from, Mrs. Ogg.”

“I should hope so.”

“I know how they get there, too. I live on a farm and I’ve got a lot of older
sisters.”

“Ah, right,” said Nanny. “Well, I see you’re pretty well prepared for life,
then. Not much left for me to tell you, I expect. And I’ve never had a god pay
any attention to me, as far as I can recall. Flattered, are you?”

“No!” Tiffany looked into Nanny’s smile. “Well, a bit,” she admitted.

I got to the start of the third line and stopped.  I felt really uncomfortable.  My wife & I had an understanding that we were never going to lie to the kids about this, none of that “the stork brought you” nonsense.  We had agreed that as soon as one of the kids asked the question we would answer honestly & completely.

However, I wasn’t quite sure that 8:30 at night when I’m trying to get her & her three year old sister to sleep was really the right time to start what would inevitably be a rather long conversation. So I told them I needed to talk to Mummy for a minute, went to the room across the hallway where my wife was busy reading The Hobbit to our 6 year old daughter and 8 year old son & asked if I could have a chat with Mummy for a second.

After handing her the book and saying “so should I read this next bit?”, a brief discussion (and Sarah laughing at me) occurred and we decided that I should just keep reading and take the conversation if it happened. So I did, we read on and, nothing.  No questions, no “huh?”, nothing.  I should mention at this point that Alanah does ask questions if she doesn’t understand something or gets confused.

It’s left me wondering whether she’s already figured it out, or whether it’s just not occurring to her to ask.  I wonder whether we just should ask her, but as Sarah said, if she doesn’t know & hasn’t thought to ask, she’s probably not ready yet.

Oh well, we do read to the kids to broaden their minds, the conversation has to come up eventually.

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Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

Wintersmith (Discworld, #35)

Links to this book

Reading to: Alanah (9) & Sabrina (3).

When Tiffany Aching – young witch – steps into a dance she shouldn’t, the spirit of winter falls in love with her. He gives her roses and icebergs, says it with avalanches and showers her with snowflakes – and suddenly winter is all around her. All the time. With the help of the Nac Mac Feegle, first met in The Wee Free Men, and a bit of advice from witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg, Tiffany must put the mess right – or there will never be another springtime …

There are spoilers ahead

This is the third book in the Tiffany Aching series, which is part of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld universe. The previous two books being The Wee Free Men & A Hat Full of Sky, both of which I’ve already read to my 9 year old and 3 year old daughters. All the kids love these books, especially the Nac Mac Feegle (in my best attempt at a Scottish accent too). Alanah, my eldest, is particularly fond of the Feegles, she finds them hilarious. I sometimes hear her crying "Crivens!" to her siblings throughout the day.

Currently we’re about half way through the book. For those who’ve read it, Tiffany has just moved in with Nanny Ogg.

As with all of Terry Pratchett’s books, this book is part fantasy, part comedy and part social commentary. The Tiffany series is actually a spin-off of the witches series of books and shares a few of the characters, particularly Granny Weatherwax & Nanny Ogg.  These Tiffany books are aimed at a child/teenage audience (I think they’re classified as ‘Young Adult Fiction’), so it has less violence and innuendo than in some of the other Discworld novels.  It does mention the Feegles and their “fightin’ an boozin’” where they get “pished” (I had to explain those last two).

Also, there are some interesting themes introduced in this book. Essentially the Wintersmith, i.e. the anthropomorphic personification of Winter, falls in love with Tiffany. This is the first time in the Tiffany books that romantic love is really talked about openly. It was hinted at in Hat Full of Sky, but never really gone into. In this one Tiffany has to deal with not only the Wintersmith’s feelings for her, but also her own confusion around how she feels about that, plus her definitely-not-boyfriend-just-a-boy-who-she-writes-to Roland. Sex is actually mentioned briefly:

"Is this about sex?" asked Tiffany.
Miss Tick looked at the ceiling. Granny Weatherwax cleared her throat. Nanny gave a huge laugh that would have embarrassed even the little wooden man.
"Sex?" she said. "Between Summer and Winter? Now there’s a thought."
"Don’t…think…it," said Granny Weatherwax sternly. She turned to Tiffany. "He’s fascinated by you, that’s what it is. …"

This section went past without any comment or question surprisingly enough.

I’ve read all the Tiffany books previously (actually there’s only a couple of the Discworld books I haven’t read) so I get a lot of pleasure anticipating my kids’ reactions to the sections that are coming up.  The book picks up the pace after this, with Annagramma’s troubles, the snow and then confronting the Wintersmith.  I’m really interested to see what Alanah makes of this one.

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