EVERY night when I tuck my offspring into their various beds I have to make sure each child has the music or story of their choice playing in the background.
Despite all getting varying numbers of bed time stories geared for their ages, they also like to listen to music as they drift off to sleep. It is something I have done since they were all tiny. Each has a CD player in their room and they go to sleep listening to music from Mozart through to pan pipes.
When I was pregnant with my first I read something which said a love of music starts from a very early age. That was enough for me. I ran to the nearest music store and picked up a load of CDs just right for children.
And each night just before I turn off the lights I put on each child's music.
I have no idea whether this subliminal effect does actually work, but all I can say is the eldest has a very good ear and pitch and is already becoming quite an accomplished little musician. Not only does she love playing her recorder – for which she has lessons – but she has also commandeered my old half size violin (a perfect fit for her) and is constantly transposing tunes on to the piano.
The three-year-old and one-year-old attend a babies' music group once a week and when we come home my son acts it all out again he loves it so much. Even the baby in her babyish way can sing (or lisp) one bar of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
However, my eldest, although she loves listening to music, has now decided she likes to listen to stories being read on CD as she hits the pillow at night.
At the moment she is completely taken with The Wind In the Willows read by the lovely Sir Derek Jacobi. On alternate nights she switches to Black Beauty narrated by Angela Rippon.
And another of her loves is a CD I got free with a load of books called Magical Animals. Here the stories of Greek myths and legends are brought to life in a child-friendly way and now she loves all that ancient history – much to her classic academic grandfather's joy.
Now she has a big poster on her playroom wall and can tell me all about Medusa, Zeus and Aphrodite, among others. But her favourite is the winged horse Pegasus. All her recent drawings seem to depict him in some miracle feat flying through space.
Thankfully I am able to fuel her love of all things ancient and Greek thanks to Sheffield City Council. As part of its marvellous annual Off the Shelf programme, the Sheffield Children's and Young People's Library, on Surrey Street, is hosting a Myths and Marathons afternoon.
This is an interactive workshop exploring the Greek gods, goddesses, heroines and heroes through stories, activities and craft inspired by the Olympics 2012. Admission is free but places must be booked in advance. Contact the library on (0114) 273 4734.
For more information on the Off The Shelf Festival – in particular the Highlighting History launch, which runs February 3-6 – visit www.offtheshelf.org.uk
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