Words Have A Habit of Misbehaving
When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’ or pusillanimous or disconcerted. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down.
The Word Tree Never Stops Arguing With Itself!
One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.”
Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!”
I dropped my pen, hoping the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I?
I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing with your own story! “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.”
Since that day, I have been paying extra special attention to every word I invite into my children’s stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray.
And this is how I write ALL my children’s stories. In my latest book:Find My Name in the Alphabet Train
, written for little ones before they start the very big business of going to school, I have made rhymes out of sounds. And just as every boy and girl has a special name so that we know the difference between Johnny and Jenny, every letter has its very own sound that makes it special too! These sounds are called phonics. And it takes many different sounds to make just one word. So you can see, if we don’t learn our sounds first, we won’t be able to make, or read, words. And then, where would we be? Stories just simply wouldn’t be written or read at bedtime or any other time for that matter! THAT is how important it is to learn how letters sound, even before we start school, so that we grow up to be wonderful readers and discover the magic of books.
With love from Dr. Niamh