Many years after Jason used to take his own children to Rhyme Time at Golders Green library, he returned this week, as part of a whistle-stop tour of libraries in northwest London.
But this time, rather than singing, he was signing – mostly.
With Rhyme Time attended by pre-school children, Jason decided to read What Can You See? – which takes the youngest book lovers – and their grown-ups – on an adventure, exploring the world around them, from their home, to the jungle, the beach and into space – using simple rhymes and the glorious illustrations of Hannah Rounding. He was also joined by a handful of cuddly toys, borrowed from his children, of animals featured in the book.
The first visit was to Hendon Library, where one of the children was so excited by his reading that she brought him a book by another author and asked him to read that too. That was just one step short of the time, at a bookshop signing, someone asked him to sign a book written by someone else.
The next stop on his tour of northwest London took Jason to Colindale, where the library staff did get him singing after all, as they handed him a translucent, red scarf and invited him to join in with The Wheels On The Bus, waving the scarf in circles above his head. This was a larger session, with some children who were nearer school age, so there was more interaction, as they rushed forward to point at the pictures and – with help from their grown-ups – guessing some of the rhymes before Jason got there.
The final session of the week was the most meaningful, taking Jason back to the very library where he used to take his own children.
“Hearing the same songs felt like going back in time,” he said. “But sitting at the front, with my own book, engaging with the toddlers, was really gratifying. And after all the fun my own children had there, it was great to feel like I was giving something back.”
After the success of this week’s sessions, Jason was invited to return with his latest book, A Zoo In My Shoe, during next year’s February half term, when primary school children will be able to join him for some anarchic rhyming fun and activities.