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One of the things I love about being a parent is raising a reader – sharing my love of books and reading with my child!
I have a young reader at home, my son D, who has started reading short and simple stories independently. He never wants to miss his reading time which is twice a day, once at bedtime at night and another after waking up in the morning, barring one exception and that is when he is spending time with his grandparents.
There have been many times when he is tired at night with drooping eyes, and I ask him to stop reading after a page. But he insists on finishing the whole story first and then sleeping. However, this does not mean he dozes off as soon as he closes the book since what follows next is another few minutes of book discussion and Q&As. There are days when my ‘factory of answers’ gets locked out by 8 pm. On such days the Q&A time at bedtime becomes a drag for me. Still his exuberance for books and reading fills me with delight and gratitude.
He is soon going to be 5 years in a couple of months and it has been a fulfilling experience, the efforts for which started at the time when he was 10 months old.
First of all, let me tell you it has not been easy for me, especially, when I am surrounded by non-readers in my family and these are people who do not appreciate time spent in reading and call it lazing around. Lazing and watching TV is the highly accepted norm. I have been asked, cajoled and pressurised several times to give up on my act of reading books and concentrate solely on fuelling D’s body because he is thin, skinny and all that. Fuelling one’s mind – who needs that? Well, these people also wanted me to give up blogging for the same reasons but who listens to them? Thick skinned, you may call me.
Definitely, regular reading and spending time in libraries and bookstores played an important role in raising a little reader. But, since I am surrounded by ‘normal and sane’ people, I had to create my own mad and crazy ways to keep my love for reading alive and to kindle the same emotion in D.
Here are my 5 crazy ways which have played an equally important role in instilling a love for books and reading and effectively raising a little reader.
Letting his and my books remain scattered around the house at all times.
I have always been particular about tidying away the toys and shutting them in boxes after play, but never ever tidying away the books. In fact, I did not have a book shelf in my house for a long long time. I was happy with the books strewn on the couch, the window sills, the bed side tables and many times even on the kitchen counter. Turn your head in any direction and behold the sight of books in your eyes and heart!
Every time the courier guy rings the doorbell, it calls for a celebration – a shriek and a jig to welcome the new book in the house.
The whole event is over-hyped with lots of excitement and D’s first question being “Is it my book or yours?” No, his excitement does not cease with the knowledge that the book is not for him. After all, we are one in our ‘bookhood’ (yep, I made that word up). Promptly, the packaging is cut off, the book is taken out and the sweet smell of the pages of the book is sniffed, which provides us with an ecstasy similar to that of a drug addict. Crazy, I know. I told you.
Dropping in random references to the lines and stories from the books read, in the midst of everyday mundane and interesting conversations.
The stories and characters spill out of the books and become a part of us. While watching a bull fight on TV, we name the bull ‘Ferdinand’ and start looking for someone with flowers on hats in the scene (The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf) or when asking D for the nth time to behave in the library, I ask him not to roar like a lion or be kicked out of the library (The Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen) or the times talking about thieves, naming every thief as ‘Zot’ (The Colour Thief by Gabriel Alborozo).
Once in a few days, waking up in the morning and declaring it to be the ‘Reading Day’ – meaning I will be perched in some corner of the house for the whole day reading away. The occurrence of ‘Reading Day’ does not coincide with a Poornima (Full moon) or Amavasya (New Moon) or or any other ‘day’, but actually when I reach the middle of the plot and the story turns super interesting. In short, when the book becomes simply unputdownable. (The grammar prompt of wordpress asks me if I really want to use this word ‘unputdownable’ because it suggests correction for it as ‘unpardonable’.)
On such a day, D sits beside me with all his books pulled out of his book shelf and scattered around, reading and figuring out the words and frequently prodding me to help him read a difficult word.
What about food on such a day, you say? Bread, butter & jam, milk and salad make up the menu!
Discussing what he is going to read when he becomes a big boy of 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.
Centre anything around being a big boy and it is sure to catch his attention and imagination. He knows the other big boys by the names Tom Sawyer (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer), Huckleberry Finn (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) and Swamy (Swami and Friends) are waiting for him to join them in their adventures and then there is Alice (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) and Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables) too.
I also give him the details of the characters from the books I am reading at a particular moment and update him every now and then about how the plot is moving in my book. It helps because I read children’s literature most of the times.
Okay, the 5th one was not clearly a crazy one because despite all the craziness I am an intelligent person too and I had to show it off in some way.
Do I sense you chuckling?
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Published here earlier.
Image source: flickr
Anamika Agnihotri is a mother of a 5 year old book enthusiast. She is an
Wonderfully written Anamika.. Yes to every pointer. With everything available online reading habits have reduced a lot. It is very important to induce habits as these.
Thanks Menaka. I agree with reading habits in children becoming almost non-existent with too many distractions around and thus it takes dedicated efforts to nurture little readers.
I look up to you, Anamika to learn about making M a reader. Lovely tips and I’m surely going to try all of these. I just hope she takes to it 🙂
Oh Thank you so much Nabanita. I am sure M is going to be an avid reader having a book lover for her mother.
I can see myself doing lot of similar things Anamika- I am so happy that your son is cultivating this healthy habit from you- I wish you lots of lots of together- time in book reading. Keep sharing your experiences as you go along so that we all can benefit from that.
Thank you Sunaina for the wishes. It makes me tremendously happy, as you also do, when I come across parents who read regularly to their little children, thereby sowing the seeds of a life-long love for reading.
I love the second and third idea! Harry Potter References have become an inbuilt part of my lingo, and everyone who knows me knows not to roll their eyes when I promptly start reciting a HP anecdote to match a situation 😀
Giving a child the gift of a book is so much better than toys. With toys, parents give kids tools to explore new worlds. But with books, parents can give their kids tools to create new worlds.
Amazing post, Anamika ❤
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