Letter to myself…

Every year, I write a letter to myself as a reminder of, I don’t even know what. But it’s a little space for me to just let out some steam; to give myself a pep talk when I need it most; to just talk through some of the things I need to talk through. I haven’t done one this year and I’m not sure why, so I’m sitting down now to do it. If this isn’t your jam, feel free to not read, but if you want to read, be gentle.

Hello you. It’s you!

Ha, that is a very meta way to start a letter, but here we go. It’s January 26th. Want to know why I’ve waited so long to write this, I don’t know why. Fear? Worry? Nothing to say? Too much to say? Whatever the reason, I’m here now. I’m sitting writing to you.

I’m not sure why you’ve come back to read this. Is something troubling you? Are you 10 years in the future Steph who is being nostalgic for another time? Are you a week’s time Steph and you’re worried that you’re sounding really self-indulgent? Are you not even Steph, but you want to know more? Welcome, reader, whoever you are.

I’m sitting writing this after a rough afternoon of anxiety centred around time. It’s the stupidest thing, but that’s that. I worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to do the things I need to do for work, so people would see that I’m a fraud and I’d be sacked, and in reality none of that is going to happen.

Anxiety is a funny old barrel of fish. It’s mostly irrational. I’ve come to realise that time is my biggest trigger. I have no idea why. Is it a control thing? I don’t know. I’m sure whichever Steph is reading this still has a time thing going on and that’s OK. Just don’t let it take over. Nothing’s going to happen because you’re out enjoying your Sunday. Routine is a marvellous thing, but being out of routine can be a little bit freeing. We both know routine is the thing that keeps us going (hello not coping in the holidays), but don’t be afraid to step outside of that routine occasionally. You’re allowed to live your life a little. 

As I sit here, there’s things that are bothering me and questions that I have: are they still bothering you?

Friendships? Health things? Single-ness? Weight? Life? Career? I’m sure if they’re not, there’s other things. If you’ve managed to work through some of those things, then take a minute to congratulate yourself or celebrate that. If not, that’s more than OK. Life isn’t always what you think it’s going to be. Remember 10-year-old Steph thinking that she’d be a teacher by 21, married by 25 and kids and a house by 30? Well none of those things happened, but the world didn’t fall apart. Some dreams take longer to reach.

If you’re thinking there’s lots of things still bothering you, talk about them. People will listen. You’ll have people around you who want to listen. I know you think you don’t want to bother people, but you won’t be BOTHERING YOU. They love you. That’s not bothering them. It bothers them if you don’t talk about them. They might not have the answers; they might not have the answers you want, but people will be there for you. Don’t isolate yourself because we both know that’s more dangerous than anything.

I’m rambling now, but I’m going to set out a few hopes I have for us. We don’t set resolutions because fear of failure and all that shit. A few hopes I have for us:

  • Ask for help when you need it: stubbornness and pride (a word many people wouldn’t associate with you but one that is REAL) are definitely part and parcel of who we are, but they aren’t always great traits. If you need help no matter how big or small the problem or question, I hope we grow enough to learn to ask for it.
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do/don’t have time to do: You can’t do everything for everyone and it’s not your job. It’s OK to say no because sometimes you have to prioritise you and whatever it is you want to do. I hope we choose to only do the things we want to do.
  • Break away from routine occasionally: whether it’s spending a Sunday doing no work, or it’s a Friday night and you go out, break out of your routine. The more times you do it, the easier it will be. I hope we choose to do fun things that enrich our lives away from work.
  • Do something spontaneous: it’s not part of who we are, but book a random hotel getaway or travel somewhere new. It doesn’t have to be far far away, but go somewhere new, you never know what you’re going to learn. Go visit Nat. You know you want to. I hope we visit somewhere or someone new.
  • Be comfortable doing more things by yourself: we’ve mastered eating breakfast, shopping and having coffee by ourselves, but go to the cinema, or go out for tea by yourself, it might be freeing. I hope we find a new thing that we are comfortable at doing alone.
  • Learn to love yourself a little bit more: I’m not asking for Ru Paul levels of love, but a bit. There’s ALWAYS something negative you can find to say about yourself, but next time you find yourself wanting to say something negative, find something positive to say. And then the time after that. And then the time after that. It’s only one thing at a time, but eventually it’ll be lots of little things. I hope we find space in our vocabulary for self-positivity.

Be kind to yourself. Come back to these things in 2021 and see what’s changed, if anything.

S x

Monday = Me day

Hello!

I’ve decided that I’m going to make Monday a “me” post day. By that I don’t mean I’m going to be posting all about me… but it’s not necessarily going to be a bookish day: it might be about school, about my life, about my MH: it’ll be something personal, not necessarily bookish. It MIGHT be bookish, but it won’t be a review. I always love when I get to learn more about a blogger and writing my post last week (see here) was such a great thing for me to do that I thought I’d love a space on this blog for me, the person, not just me the book blogger! I hope you guys stick around and read my Monday posts, but if they’re not your jam, that’s OK. There’ll still be plenty of bookish content the rest of the days! 

I’m going to kick off Me Day Mondays with a “happy post“. These are some of my favourite posts to write and to read. I stole the idea from my gorgeous friend Grace Latter (who is a proper babe and you should all be following her on all of the social medias if you’re not already) and I’ve well and truly taken it under my belt! 

Breakfasts with my friends. Spending time with my mam. Drinking wine on a Saturday afternoon like a fancy lady. Going back to work. New challenges. New friends. Getting so much joy out of teaching. Knowing that I’m working really hard and it’s having an impact. Reading books because I want to. Spending my birthday reading, having cake and talking about books. When people remember small things about me. Starbucks Fridays. Birthday videos from the twiglets. Getting lovely emails. Having people back in my life who’ve been gone a while. Seeing the look of joy in my kids faces when they’re enthusiastic about something. Reading Letters From The Lighthouse with the kids and them having so much enthusiasm about it. Laughing at my pal-o. Booking train tickets for London in Feb. Chocolate hob nobs and a cup of tea. Looking after myself. Buying tights that fit. Pyjamas. Clearing out my wardrobe. A new diary. Ticking off things on my to do list. Making time for meditating. Falling back to sleep on a weekend. Listening to Disney playlists as I’m marking. Being productive. Books. Always books. 

In light of ‘Monday Me Day’, I’d like to pass the torch on to you to find out what you’d like to know about me as a person? Have you got anything you’d like me to talk about? Is there anything you’d like to know about me? What do you want to see more of around here that isn’t books? 

S x 

A decade in the life of me…

The start of a new decade is a funny thing.

We all know I’m a proper sentamentalist and I’m an emotional person. Seeing everyone’s posts about 2010 vs 2020 made me think about all of the things that happened to me from 2010-2019. I went into it thinking “I’ve not really achieved/done a lot in 10 years”, but looking over it, I have. So this post is probably more for me than for anyone else, but if you’re interested, here’s a decade in the life of me (in no real order, except the order my brain thought of it). There’ll be things I’ve forgotten – this isn’t an exhaustive list by any means. 

Fell in love a few times. Had my heart broken a few times. Imagined I’d marry one of them. Was crushed when that didn’t happen. Made some tragic love life decisions, but learned from them. 
Visited Paris. Had an absolute blast. Learned a lot about myself. Stood at the top of the Eiffel Tower with a glass of champage.
Became a blogger. It changed my life. Won an award. Met some incredible people. Made some life-long friends. Chaired events with some of my favourite authors in the land. Began to call some of my favourite authors my friends. Realised that needing an escape isn’t a weakness. Realised that people care about what I have to say and that they will read what I have to say.
Read a lot of books. Some which changed my life. Kept most of them either in my bedroom, my classroom or my school library. Kept some of them in my heart.
Started working in a school. Worked my arse off for a few years. Realised that you can chase your dreams and they can come true.
Went to university. It changed my life. Worked really fucking hard. Wrote a dissertation. Graduated. Got my teaching qualification. Started to think about getting a Masters. 
Became a teacher. It changed my life. Got my first class. Passed my NQT year. Cried a lot. Doubted myself a lot. Had to have many pep talks. Realised teaching definitely is the thing for me. Wrote for a teaching magazine. Helped a lot of people and needed a lot of help.
Became a godmother. It changed my life.
Visited my brother in Sweden. It didn’t change my life, but it made me miss him an awful lot.
Visited New York. It made me speechless. Made friends on the other side of the pond who changed my life.
Lost a lot of weight (6 stone) and probably put it all back on. Realised my weight doesn’t define me.
Stood up for myself and what I want time after time.
Turned 30. Realised that age genuinely is just a number.
Learned a lot about myself. Learned a lot about other people.

Cried a lot. Laughed a lot.
Ate lots of breakfasts. Realised that going out for breakfast was one of the things that made me happy.
Visited the seaside a lot.
Made friends with people I never imagined I would make friends with. Lost friends. Tried to surround myself with people who are good for me. 

S x 

Where have you been?

Hello!

For those who have been reading my blog for a while, you might have noticed that I have been a bit absent for this month… I’ll be honest, I was just TIRED. I suffer quite badly from SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder) in Winter and this year it made me SO uninspired and indifferent to everything that I love doing. The main thing it affected was my will to sit here and talk about books. It was never because I didn’t want to blog any more; it was purely I didn’t have the capacity and the drive to do it. 

There were other factors too: tiredness, teacher life, Christmas, I wanted to not pressurise myself to BE a blogger because then I’d know it was time to stop. 

This is just a little post to say that I’m still here. I’m still reading. I’m still going to be blogging. I still love books. I still want to talk about books. I’ve just been missing for a while. I’ll be back. I promise. I already have blog posts scheduled for the new year! I don’t think I’ll be able to blog as often as I did this past year (6 times per week some weeks) but I’m going to aim for as often as I can

Of course #SixforSunday will be back. The prompts for January, February and March are being posted on Friday for those of you who are interested (hello Charlotte, that’s you mainly) and I’m so bloody chuffed that this is still a thing I do in my world. Look out for that post coming up!

I need your help friends.

I wanna know what you want to see from me. Do you like my full reviews? Do you prefer my round ups? Do you want more school based posts? Do you want to see other things outside of books and school? I love blogging, like I really love blogging. I’ve talked about it enough around these parts, but it’s a great outlet for me and I want it to continue to be something that is enjoyable for me… but also you guys! You people who read my ramblings day after day, month after month. And I am open to suggestions. Is there content you’d like to see from me that I don’t post often? I loved doing mood boards (they’re a bit more work, but they look rgeat) and I’d love to do those on occasion. Do you want me to see if I can feature other bloggers? Authors? Illustrators? I have lots of great ideas that I don’t know if I can pull off! 

What do you think? What do you want to see from me?

Thank you if you’ve stuck by me for the past few months while my posting schedule has been sporadic. Winter, being a teacher and SADs have kicked my ass, but I am still here. Still reading, still shouting about books! 

You’re all magnificent. Speak to you again soon, 

S x 

Being a blogger…

Being a blogger is something that has taken over a massive part of my life and I love it. I sit on a Sunday and I blog. I’m very much a creature of habit. Sundays are dedicated to a bit of time in town. I come home, do some work for the week ahead of teaching and then I switch my blogger brain on and I blog. I reply to emails. I read others’ blogs. I organise my thoughts into somewhat cohesive sentences. I’ll dedicate 2-3 hours (sometimes more) on a Sunday to blogging. It gives me an outlet. It gives me something to think about when everything else just seems a bit shit. It’s a place for me to come when I don’t really want to be anywhere. It’s a place for me to shout and a place for me to vent. It’s a place for me to love and share. It’s my place. It’s my corner of this vast world we call the internet where I can write the rules. It’s a space for my thoughts, in whatever messy and illogical order I want to put them. It’s a place for people to read or ignore. It’s my creative outlet. It’s somewhere for me to play, invent, explore. 

Reading has always been the thing I do. Getting the chance to talk about reading with whoever will listen is wonderful. I think if I weren’t a teacher, I’d be working in some kind of book related field. I love books. I love adventuring with new friends. I love visiting new worlds all while sitting in Starbucks/bed/on a train. I love the feeling of discovering without having to actually go anywhere. I’m not a very interesting person in that regard. I’d never climb a mountain, or parachute, or get in a helicopter, but I will do all of these things in books. I get to experience things I know I’m not brave enough to expierience in real life. Reading gives you the chance to be whoever you want to be, wherever you want to be. Reading teaches you things you might not get the chance to learn. Reading gifts you things you sometimes never expect. 

Being able to talk about books is the thing that keeps bringing me back to this blog. I want people to know about books. I want more adults to realise the brilliance and beauty of children’s and YA books. The world needs more kindness, understanding and love and you get those things in BARREL FULLS in books for kids and teenagers. You experience things you’d never get to experience elsewhere. Adult books can be so SERIOUS; kids books always have fun. Whether it’s a book I’m sent, or a book I’ve bought, it’s a book I’ll talk about. I use this space as a space for me to talk about the things that make me happy. The one thing that I always fall back on is books. They’re a massive part of my life.

I had a moment the other day where I opened the door to a very wet and soggy postman who handed me over 2 massive parcels. I knew they’d be books, but I will NEVER ever NOT be grateful for that. I feel grateful each and every single day that I get to do this. That people care enough about my opinion to let me do this is bonkers. I’d do this if no one read it. The fact authors, publishers and publicists trust me with their books and want to know what I have to say blows my mind. I am just me. I’m just a reader from Newcastle who loves books. That’s who I’ve always been. I’m a reader. This blog allows me the space to be a reader who shares books and that’s why I am still here. 

To anyone who is still there reading, thank you for stopping by. If this is your first post you’ve read, or the 800th, I’m very grateful. I never thought this would get me to places I’ve been. I’m just a girl who loves books and sharing them. Thanks for letting me share them. 

S x 

Me, my shelves and I

Good morning friends!

How are you all on this here Monday? Have you had a restful weekend? Did you get up to anything exciting?

A while ago (and I mean QUITE A WHILE AGO) I posted a blog post all about my book shelves, and since then I’ve had a little reshuffle so I thought I’d share what my bookshelves look like now. I’m really interested in posts like this. I love a ‘what’s in my bag?’ kind of blog post or Youtube video, so if you have one, link me below and I will check it out cause I am a NEBBY NORA.

A disclaimer: These books aren’t ALL of the books I own. There is in fact a whole bookshelf of books at school which belong to me. There’s books in the drawers under my bed which I own. There’s 2 boxes full of books which are still to be read. There’s 2 boxes of books which are picture books I use for school. There’s a big pile of non-fiction that is for school/to be read. These shelves are 2 deep. You can only see the front row of books because they are FAVES.

I promise you… my bedroom is just books. And a bed ha.

First up: my shelf of “favourite” picture books.

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These aren’t all my favourites because there’s some at school, and there’s some in my ‘Picture books for school’ box too. As you can see, they’re roughly split into hardbacks (I do own the other hardback HP books which are out now too) and paperbacks. There’s some candles in the middle from when my friend owned a candle shop, some zippy pouch things filled with samplers from YALCs past (the blue spotty one with the black zip is actually from a bag making workshop I did with Melinda Salisbury – my one true queen).

Next shelf down: my YA faves shelf

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I don’t think anything on this shelf will come as a surprise to anyone. (No I don’t know why my collection goes picture books, YA books and then MG books either). This shelf is pretty much front and centre on my bookshelves, so it has pride of place in my room. As you can see there’s some absolute Steph faves on these shelves. This is where you’ll find my collections of my fave authors. And it’s fair to say that these books are by my utter faves. There’s proofs and finished copies of books where I can have them too (and even some American versions of Sara Barnard books, provided by the lady herself. Sara, I love you!) I really need more room for my YA books because there are so many more books I’d love to ook at everyday, but these ones are my utter faves. The book wrapped in a map is actually a copy of Scarecrow Queen by Melinda Salisbury that I was sent for being on her blog tour, but I can’t bring myself to unwrap it! Don’t be fooled by these shelves though… I own multiple copies of every Mel book. In the black drawstrings you can see, there’s my hardback State of Sorrow book that was a Fairyloot exclusive. So yeah. There’s my YA shelf!

Third shelf down: My MG faves!

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Much like my YA shelf, this shelf and the books on it will not come as a surprise to many people! Front and centre is of course my fave Maz of all time. These shelves house some of my favourite kids books that I’ve read in recent years (as well as a few candles from my friend’s now non-existent candle shop). This shelf and my YA shelf really highlight to me the love that I have for fantasy books. Bloody love me some fantasy! And yes, yes, I do own 3 copies of The Explorer by Katherine Rundell (a proof, a hardback and a paperback… sue me!).

And that’s it for today! If you’re interested in seeing what my shelves USED to look like and seeing if they’ve changed recently, go check out THIS POST.

Have you shared your book shelves recently?
What’s your favourite thing about your book shelves?
What’s something you’re surprised to see on my shelves?

Talk to me in the comments! I’d love to know your thoughts and I’d love to see your own shelves, cause I’m a nosy person!

S x

Half term happy post

Having time to myself. Spending time with my favourite people. In jokes. Knowing that I can switch off and switch back on. Seeing my Welsh pal for the first time in forever. Train travels. Reading. Spending quiet time with people. Naps. Laughing a lot. Excellent food. Breakfast. Lots of breakfast. Lie ins. Hot water bottles. Getting up knowing I’ll see my favourite people. Cuddles. Cakes. Lovely texts. Knowing the people I love are safe. Plenty of cups of tea. Quilliams. Looking after myself. Reading lots of brilliant books. Meeting doggos. Pick and mix. Takeaway YA does half term. Having people around me who I am comfortable being silent with. People trusting my opinion. Doing something productive. Being thanked. Book post. Unwinding. Relaxing. Not thinking about work for a minute. Switching off. Walks along the coast. Being by the sea. The comfort of home. The excitement of travels. Watching my friends together. Listening to conversations. Having a good catch up. Running up to Christmas. Buying Christmas presents. Reading that book you’ve waited months for. Being comfortable around people. Not worrying. Reading. Always reading. 

A-Z of me (part 2)

Happy Monday!

Thank you so much for your lovely comments about my post last Monday – A-Z of Me (part 1). You are all wonderful. As promised, today is the second part of that blog post. So here we go…

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N – Nebby

This is a word I use ALL the time and it is a word that confuses the hell out of a lot of people. It’s a wonderfully Geordie word which means nosy. It’s one of my favourite Geordie words.

O – Oranges

satsuma

SPECIFICALLY SATSUMAS. GUYS I LOVE SATSUMAS. They don’t get enough love to be honest. I just love them: they’re the perfect amount of sweet and sour. You have to get the ones which are more than yellow than orange though. People often tell me that there’s no difference between satsumas, tangerines and clementines and let me tell you, there is. I LOVE SATSUMAS OK?

P – Pride

 

Now, this isn’t something I talk about very often because I don’t feel like it’s something that I NEED to talk about, nor is it something I’m asked about often. I am incredibly proud of who I am. No, I’m not straight. No, I don’t feel the need to tell everyone about it all of the time. No, I don’t know how I identify. I am attracted to the people I’m attracted to. 

Q – Quilliams

 

Ha. Those of you who know me will know this is no surprise. So Quilliams is a wonderful teahouse in Newcastle where I am OFTEN found. It’s one of my favourite places to visit. I’m usually found there on a Sunday. I don’t go every Sunday, but I probably go twice a month. I’m not a massive breakfast fan, but when I want a cooked breakfast, then I’ll go to Quilliams. If you’re ever in Newcastle and you want somewhere to go for breakfast, I can not recommend Quilliams enough!

R – Recommending books

2019 loves

I’m very lucky to have this platform and a job which allows me to recommend books which I love the most. I’m also really lucky to have friends who will take on my recommendations (thanks Charlotte) and read them and then let me freak out about them as much as I want. Recommending books and giving them to their “perfect reader” gives me such joy. There’s nothing better as a teacher to give a child a book you think will be perfect for them and then seeing them fall completely for that book. It does happen. It never stops being wonderful.

S – Scarves

This was originally stationery because I LOVE stationery, but now that it’s Autumn, it’s SCARF WEATHER. I bloody love a scarf. So so much. I think I even wrote a whole blog post about it once… you’ll find it here! The bigger, the warmer and the more checky the scarf, the more I love it!

T – Trains

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I bloody love a bit of train travel. If I could travel on trains to everywhere, I think I would. I think living in the North means you have to appreciate train travel because that’s one of the only ways to get to the South (where everything bloody happens). I don’t drive and have no ambition to drive at all, so train travel is my go to. I love a journey down to London because I can get so much reading done, I can do some blog planning or life planning and still have time to have a little snack. Let’s be honest… one of the best bits of going on a train is train snacks. I must say though for all I love travelling on a train I STILL get unbelievable anxiety around train travel… luckily I have some absolute brilliant friends who accept the fact I need to be at the train station an hour before my train. (thanks pals)

U – University

 

(Sunderland graduation 2017//Newcastle graduation 2018)

For those of you who are new around here, you might not know about my journey into teaching, but it wasn’t your usual journey. I didn’t go to uni until I was 25. I wasn’t ready for university when I was 18, so I didn’t go. I worked my arse off at the shoe shop I worked at, and then I left at 20 to go and work in the school I work at now. I worked there for a few years until I was eventually ready to go to university. I did it part time through Sunderland and as exhausting as it was going to university 5-9 every Thursday, it was incredible. I was in a cohort that was really small (I think there were only 14 of us) and we were from such diverse education backgrounds that I learned so so much. Most of the people on my course worked in apprenticeships, so something totally different to my experience. My time at Sunderland helped me gain a degree in Education and then I did a SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) at the school I work in through Newcastle University and the local high school SCITT. It was a GRUELLING year with more essays that I dare to recall, but it was incredible. I FINALLY graduated as a teacher in July 2018 and, despite the fact my journey was not conventional, I wouldn’t change it for the world. The friends I’ve made, the things I’ve learned and the people I met made the whole experience so incredible. Follow your dreams friends. It’s really bloody important that if you’re passionate about something to do it!

V – Vocabulary

Here. I am a MASSIVE fan of learning new words. And a massive fan of teaching new words. One of my favourite things to teach is new words, using them, working out what they mean and trying to get used to it. Learning new words is one of those gorgeous things in life. I have my own little “new vocab” book in my handbag for any time I come across a new word in whatever book I’m reading. There’s something so full of potential with a new word – you might finally have a word for something you’ve never had before. I’m really quite secretly a massive nerd.

W – Writing stories

This is one of my favourite things to do. I don’t do it because I want to be published one day, oh no. I don’t think I have that kind of story in me to be honest, but whenever I need a model for school for the children to see what I’m looking for, there’s nothing better than coming up with it myself. I think it’s a BRILLIANT thing to do. It keeps my brain ticking over. It gives the kids such wonder and awe to know that I wrote the stories. They’re probably not perfect, but it brings me joy!

(Soz X, but I genuinely can’t think of something for you pal!)

Y – Year 5

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I think ever since I knew I wanted to be a teacher, I knew I wanted to be a teacher of primary school children. I can’t imagine being a secondary teacher – I think they’re a very special group of people who can tolerate teenagers, but I don’t have that skill set. When I qualified, I was asked what my ideal year group was and I genuinely didn’t know. I just knew I wanted to be a teacher. This year sees me being in Year 5 for the second time and I genuinely love it – I think it’s the perfect place for me right now. I would never say no to going to another year group, but I really love being a Year 5 teacher. Year 5 feels where I need to be right now.

Z – Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Sleep. Sleep is my friend. I’m one of these people who CAN function on 4-5 hours of sleep a day, but I don’t think you’d like to meet me on those days. I try and get 8 hours a night sleep and most nights I succeed. There’s nothing more wonderful than snuggling in bed with my pyjamas on, especially when it’s cold outside!

A-Z of me! (part 1)

Hello one and all!

After the success of my A-Z of Back to Schools posts (see part 1 and part 2), someone suggested an A-Z of me post! I thought this was a great idea. For new followers, long time followers and everyone in the middle, I’m going to try to give you the A-Z of me. See this as an insight into me!

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A – Auntie Spot

Ha. An interesting one to start with, but quite a big part of my life! My goddaughers, Ruby and Poppy, and my godson, Joey, call me Auntie Spot and they’re the absolute lights of my life. I feel so bloody lucky that I have them in my life. My cousin Kate (their mam) is one of the best people in my life, so any time I get to spend with them is just the best.

B – Books, books, books

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I guess this one is quite predictable. I am SURROUNDED by books. I wouldn’t have my life any other way though. I think books are important and necessary in the world. If my blog didn’t give that away, then I might need to rethink this whole blogging thing, ha! I’ll not rabbit on too much about this one!

C – Colouring in

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One of the things I do when I’m most stressed/anxious/sad/whatever is colour in. I find it’s great for just switching my brain off and it’s just really relaxing. I’m not a fan of colouring in pictures, more a fan of colouring in patterns. If they’re geometric, that’s even better. A good set of felt tip pens, Youtube and a colouring book is what I need when I’m at my most stressed!

D – Dreams

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There’s so many things I’m doing now that I never even dreamt that I could do. I chair events; I talk about books every day; People read what I have to say; I get to teach in my very own classroom. Some of these things were just pipe dreams a few years ago, some of these things weren’t even dreams because I didn’t know they were possible. I’m a firm believer in following in your dreams. If you want something bad enough, you’ll get it… you’ve just got to work for it.

E – Emotional

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If you know me in the real world, you’ll know that I’m very in touch with my emotions. I’m not afraid to cry. I’m not afraid to be happy. I’m not afraid to express myself. I feel every emotion quite deeply. I love hard. I fall hard. I cry hard.

F – Finishing books

This might seem like a strange one, but this is something I am quite stubborn with. If I start a book, I am DETERMINED to finish it. I always think that books can redeem themselves, so I worry if I give up on a book that it’s not going to get the chance to redeem itself. I think there’s like 3 books in the past 3 years that I have DNF’d. I just don’t believe in DNF’ing books! I also think that just because you’re not enjoying a book at a certain point in your life, doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy it. I’ve found myself reading a few chapters of a book and then just putting it down with the idea that I will come back to it.

G – Geordie extraordinaire!

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Being a Geordie is a BIG part of my identity. I’m awfully proud to be a Geordie. I’m often told that I don’t SOUND like a Geordie because everyone has this stereotypical impression that we go round saying, “whey aye man” and things all the time. We do say them… just not all the time. I love being from the North East… I just wish it weren’t so far away from EVERYTHING ELSE. All the best things come from the north: Ant and Dec, Geordie Gifts, the Great North Run and me!

H – Holidays

Now… I am A BIG FAN of a holiday. I love my time at work, but man I’ ready for a rest when it comes to holiday time. More so than just being off work, I love GOING on holiday. I haven’t been on holiday for a while, but my gosh, give me the sunshine, an unlimited supply of drinks and a massive pile of books and there you have my perfect idea of a holiday. I’m not a big sightseeing kind of holiday gal, but I’ll do a day or two!

I – Inspirational quotes

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It might seem cheesy to some people, but I love a quote. I think it’s nice to know that you aren’t alone; that you’re not the only person who has ever gone through the thing that you’re going through. They crop up occasionally on my Instagram feed and it’s really reminiscent to look through and think “Woah, yeah that’s how I felt at that time, but I don’t feel like that any more”. They’re not for everyone, and some people really hate them, but I love them!

J – Journeys

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Life’s full of journeys. However, I mean literal journeys here. I love going places. Discovering new places is a great joy in life. More than that, I love the ACTUAL journey. Give me a train/car/bus journey of more than 10 mins and I’m a happy happy gal. Journeys are where I do the biggest chunk of my reading and I love that!

K – Kids

Yes, I want my own kids. Yes, I feel like a bit of a failure because I haven’t got my own kids yet. I also know that I have 30 kids every day (well 5 of 7) who rely on me. Whenever anyone asks me if I have kids yet (eyeroll, you should never ask someone that question), I always say I have 30. Now THAT gets some interesting reactions! I’d love to be blessed with my own kids one day because being a mam is one of the things I’d love most in life… but for now, my 30 kids at school keep me on my toes enough!

L – Laughter

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Something people comment about me most often is my laugh. Ask anyone who has met me, my laugh is one of the most notable things about me. I’ve been told it’s one of the best sounds on the planet. I have a big laugh and I love it.

M – “Miss”

Being a teacher is a massive part of my identity. It’s probably too big of a part sometimes, but when you’ve chased a dream for as long as I had, you’re allowed to. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher since I can ever remember. It was something I’ve wanted since I was about 6 or 7. I didn’t have the traditional route into teaching. I didn’t do my GCSEs, then my A Levels, then go to uni, then qualify. I did my GCSEs, did my A Levels, wasn’t ready for uni and worked full time in a shoe shop (which I adored). The time came though that my dream needed to be chased, so I became a TA in my school. A few years later, my dream was shouting at me. I didn’t go to uni til I was 25. I was determined to qualify before I was 30 and I did. I made it with 6 months to spare. Hearing those 30 kids say “Miss” every day might be irritating (trust me), but it reminds me that I’ve made it. I’ve got a lot to learn, but I’m doing it now.

And there you go! The A-Z of Me (part 1). Part 2 will come next Monday! I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about me!

Have any of these things surprised you?
Have you learned anything about me?
Is there anything you’d like to learn more about?

Let me know in the comments!

S x

Why do you read so many children’s books?

Hello friends!

You’ve clicked on a blog post with a question as the title, so I guess you want to know my reasons behind the question. Well, settle in for a little lesson in Why Steph reads Children’s Books and Some Recommendations.

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Well… this all stems from the fact that I read this book by Katherine Rundell recently, and it made me think. It made me wonder why more people DON’T read children’s books. Let’s be honest, they’re BLOODY MARVELLOUS. If you’re reading this blog post, or if you’re a frequent reader of my blog, you know that I think this about kids books. They’re a big part of my life and not just because I’m a teacher and a blogger. I’d read kids books even if I weren’t those things. If you’ve not read the book below, please go out and purchase it for yourself – it’s a short essay about why you should be reading children’s books… even if you’re an adult.

So why do I read children’s books? Here’s 9 reasons, with some recommendations to get you started!

They are really fast paced

Adult books can be SO SO SO SLOW. You get half way through and nothing has happened. If you read a children’s book, within the first few pages something has happened and you’re RIGHT into the action.

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They’re INTERESTING

Kids books are filled with stories which are interesting. They’ll open your world up to experiences you’ve never had before. They’ll show you places you’ve never been. You’ll meet characters you’ve never met before. They keep moving and keep evolving as you go.

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They have BEAUTIFUL covers

We all love a good bit of shelf appeal and some of the most gorgeous covers in the world are in the children’s book industry. Adult books can be very boring, but step into the children’s section and you’ll get some gorgeous covers which will make you swoon.

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They’ll make you think

I love reading a children’s book that brings up some interesting talking points. There’s a whole host of things that children’s books can make you think about. Books create a wonderful platform to open conversations about being kind to the world, kind to each other and kind to yourself.

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They’re really bloody well-written

Theyre wonderfully formed stories. They’re complex. They’re stories within stories. So gorgeously sculpted that there’s a true artform to it.

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They teach empathy beautifully

You’ll live life through the eyes of people you’ve never had the experience of before. You’ll meet characters and have your eyes opened to how the world is lived through their eyes. You’ll fall in love with voices and personalities that you might not experience not reading kids books.

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They are gorgeously rich in language

Pick up any children’s book and you’re instantly reading books which are so rich in vocabulary and language that you’ll come across words you may never have come across before.

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There’s such a WIDE range of stories and formats out there

Whether you want something in this world, in a fantastical world, a murder mystery or a magic book. If you’re after a graphic novel, or an illustrated chapter book, you’ll find books of all types for all kinds of readers in the world of chapter books.

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You’ll be seen

Children’s books have A LONG WAY to go in with this, but there is some wonderful representation out there in children’s books. Characters of all races, sexualities and religions are being written about and that’s important. The more books we read about characters of different backgrounds, the more publishers will realise there’s a NEED and a WANT for books like this.

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There are so many other recommendations I have for these different things, but I had to restrict myself. If you want to know more about any of these books, or want more recommendations, please just let me know and I would LOVE to chat with you! Also, most of these books are chapter books, but if you want picture book recommendations, I can do that!

And there you go… the reasons I think eveyrone should be reading children books!Not an exhaustive list of reasons or recommendations, but just some of my favourites!

Do you read children’s books?
Why do YOU think people should read children’s books?
What’s the best children’s book you’ve read recently?

Let’s get this conversation started and get it going so more people branch out and read children’s books… I think they’re just mint.

S x