“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!
I am passionate about reading books and love helping children around me inculcate this habit as early as they can hold a book, pay attention to a story being read out and recognize pictures. However, there weren’t many books around (except the textbooks) in my childhood. The reason being there wasn’t any readers in my family.
My mother is a casual reader who reads magazines, plenty of them but never had any inclination to read books. Though we’ve had subscriptions to many magazines over the years. Reader’s Digest has been my favourite amongst them all, but reading for me had been limited to short stories for a long time.
Though there were a couple of subscriptions for children’s magazines in my childhood they too stopped when I stepped in grade 3 because I was supposed to give my undivided attention to the school textbooks. In an age where computers and the Internet were unheard of, I had no source to read books other than the magazines at home.
My school library had a plethora of children’s books but they weren’t issued till we reached grade 5. In the interim period, my attention span for reading books reduced to a couple of pages. But, my love for books, lingered. I remember craving to read beautiful books, full of hope, energy, and positivity, though fairy tales never lured me. My brief visits to my maternal grandparent’s place were where I saw my grandfather and my aunt spend long hours reading books, discussing them at length with the family and never spending more than half an hour watching TV.
It was then, in my heart I had resolved that one day when I’ll be free from the shackles of textbooks, I’ll read many books. Years slipped past and finally came the day when I could afford to spend time and money as I pleased. I rushed to the nearby bookstore but was lost wondering how to pick a book. I had no clue, no experience to guide me. I was ashamed to admit, I hadn’t read many books except a few classics in my growing up years.
Dumping the initial hesitation, I decided to go by the gut instinct after reading the blurb and recommendations of the bookstore keeper. I very well remember reading a page a day and taking up to 40 days to read a book many people would read in a matter of hours. I didn’t have the attention span to be a voracious reader. I would marvel at the pictures being painted in every sentence, revel in their insight, plunge in their depth, seek to connect with my personal life, making reading a book take almost as long a writer would take to write it.
I have come a long way since. When I was planning on having a baby, the one thing I had clear in my mind was to gift my child the joy of reading. The best way to teach a child is by practising the same ourselves. I was certain about having many books around, reading them with and to my child to encourage her to fall in love with them at her own pace.
In the rough patches of my life, when I was struggling to survive, I was well-aware of my dwindling passion for reading. But my child was growing up every day. I had to keep reading, I had to let my child see the positive impact of reading books. This was when I started reviewing books. The deadlines to review gave me the needed push to keep reading, writing reviews for an audience made me read well, have a conversation about the book in my reviews and connect with authors and like-minded readers.
Today, I can see my daughter pick a book over anything else. Over television and computer.
The many children’s books I missed reading as a child, I’m reading as a parent, as my child’s companion and never have I felt too old to read them. Maybe it’s love, maybe it’s my thirst for the written word that has forever enticed me to be surrounded by books.
In reading, I have found solace, a voice, a companion that I want to gift my child. I want her to always be open to learning. Be appreciative of art and creativity. Enjoy discussions, travel in her mind, stay inspired, have enough thoughts to reason and reflect every situation in life.
The biggest gift has been the bonding I have developed with my child, reading books together. We read the same story but perceive it differently, guided by our life experiences and enjoy sharing them to learn more than the moral, a story has to deliver.
* This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge 2016. My theme is Parenting.
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