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Arthur, High King of Britain by Michael Morpurgo audiobookI speak as an expert on Michael Morpurgo and the mother of a child with dyslexia. This is a perfect book, enchanting for children and, thanks to the sublime narration, captivating for adults. It’s a story we know but it’s so very well done, with lots of heart, humour and danger. A great introduction for your child if they’re not great readers but they are interested in stories.
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Open Culture websiteI always point people looking for anything arty to Open Culture, which is a free cultural and educational resource with a massive library of stuff, some especially for children. There are audiobooks like Aesop’s Fables and a big Neil Gaiman section, as well as all the classics for kids coming up to exams who are sick to death of the written word. Lots of links to other free content – podcasts, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), language lessons and museums and art galleries. There are also links to YouTube, where you will find my favourite, Boris Karloff reading The Reluctant Dragon. It’s a great resource, run by good people.
Historical filmsWe’ve watched a lot of films with our kids – aged 15 and 11 – during lockdown. Gandhi (1982) and Doctor Zhivago (1965) provide a lot of history in short-cut. The issues around injustice and race are powerful and shocking. Remove phones and watch them become properly absorbed. Both kids are long-time fans of Studio Ghibli and Grave of the Fireflies (1988) induced lots of sobbing. It’s about a very powerful piece of history – two children trying to survive in post second world war Japan – that they certainly won’t be taught in school.
Provocative filmsThese are the movies that have provoked the best round-the-table debates during lockdown: Okja (2017) created an instant vegetarian, and our budding drummer was utterly riveted by Whiplash’s artistic obsession writ large. “Not my tempo” has quickly become shorthand in our house. Finally The Sting (1973) – good old-fashioned entertainment with Redford and Newman showing us how it’s done, more class than almost all modern movie stars put together. Brilliant piece of film-making. Good tunes, too.
All films currently available to rent on Amazon Prime
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