I feel like I say this rather a lot – but Ladybird Tuesday is back. Again. Let’s call it a new year and a new start eh and not talk about all the other false starts here on Penny Reads? I’m jumping straight in though with what is probably one of my favourite Ladybird books of all time – Helping at Home.
Now, most of my Ladybird books are picked up in charity shops or at car boot sales, but sometimes there’s one that I’m so keen to get my hands on that I’ll actually go searching for it on that well known internet auction site – and that’s exactly what happened with Helping at Home.
Originally published in the Learning to Read series (series 563) Helping at Home has a special vintage magic to it simply because it provides such a lovely insight into family life in the early 1960s.
Being completely fascinated in the 1950s in particular (and Helping at Home just being published in 1961) I found myself staring for ages at all the illustrations in this book, trying to take in all the minute detail of their homes. For anyone who has started watching the latest series of Call the Midwife, you’ll know that it is now up to the mid 1960s (Churchill’s funeral in the first episode of the new series was 1965) so it’s fascinating to compare what you see in the illustrations with how they have dressed the sets for the programme.
In Helping at Home, the accompanying text explains all the things that the children are helping their parents to do around the house and garden. As with the Ladybird Keyword Reading Scheme books the text tries to feature repeated words and also works in conjunction with the pictures to help children work out what all the words are.
What I think I’m somewhat in awe of is just how much these children do around the house to help their parents. Maybe I just need to try harder with my elder two, or make housework into more of a game or fun activity for them. At the moment housework and jobs like these featured end up being things I have to do when I either get a moment’s peace, or once they’ve gone to bed!
As with so many Ladybird books from this period, the male-female role split is very clear. All the jobs at home like making the bed, dusting, cooking, washing up are done my mummy, whilst outside jobs like mending the fence and digging potatoes become daddy’s role. Even shoe cleaning is led by Daddy, pipe in mouth. A role which I can always remember being my father’s when I was a child, yet something that I did for my kids just this evening before their return to school tomorrow. It’s definitely the case that things would be much more mixed up if this book were to be written today!
This era of Ladybird books really had to be my favourite and Helping at Home is a perfect example of “Ladybird Land” at its finest. I know so much has moved on since then, especially in terms of equality, but there’s still part of me that I would love to be able to go and live in Ladybird Land, even if only for a day or two. Please tell me I’m not the only one!
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.