Friday, June 02, 2006

Raising a reader

I am a strong believer that you can bring up your kids to love books and reading. And the younger you start, the better. If you leave it to them, the attraction of the colourful and moving images on the television will always win out over books. But it is up to parents to introduce their children to the joys of reading and teaching them that books can fire up their imaginations and ignite their minds in a way that television never can.

With Ayaan, I started reading to him when he was just three months old. I got a lot of sniggers from friends and family alike about this. I guess it looked silly to some people that I would waste good time and energy reading to a baby who had just about learnt to smile…

In the last month, I have really seen my efforts pay off. Ayaan loves being read to. Just the other day, the most amazing thing happened. I had just got home from office and was walking through the front door. Ayaan saw me, gave me a smile and then walked off into the adjoining room. I have to admit I was a little hurt – this was far from the effusive greeting I have become accustomed to. A few seconds elapsed and he came toddling back, holding up a book at me. He was asking me to read to him!

He is also getting more and more interactive and involved with the reading too:
  • For starters, he has grasped the concept of turning the page. His timing is not always perfect. Sometimes, he will turn the page before I am done reading and at other times, I have to say ‘Turn’ once I am done. But I think it’s pretty cool that he’s turning pages.

  • He has his favourite books (Goodnight Moon, Moo Baa La La La and Hippos go Berserk). So he will go across to the bookshelf, pick out a book and then decide whether that’s the one he wants to read. If not, he throws that one on the ground and keeps looking till he finds one that is interesting.
  • He often doesn’t want you to stop. After the last page is turned and you put the book down, he picks it up, turns your hand palm upwards and plops the book back in it. And then he starts to get fussy if you don’t read it again. Now this one is cute to a point, but after 5 readings of “Moo, Baa, La, La, La”, it can get a bit wearying.


  1. Great going, Rohini. Reading is one hobby which leads to enrichment of one's mind and then if Ayaan gets into it he will never be lonely.

  2. my dad read to me all the time when i was a kiddo... started first from amar chitra kathas... eventually i started reading on my own. you're definitely doing the right thing! of course I got a little too much into reading and ignored sports almost completely till I was 13 or so... which is not a good thing. i like ayaan's t-shirt!

  3. Great picture! My parents did the same with me, by the way, and all my baby photos have me with some book or the other, with my mother in the background, trying to get me to eat.

    i think they created a monster.

  4. One of the best pieces of advice a good friend gave me when Matthew was born (besides put him to bed for the night at 7pm) was start the basic routine you want him to have as a toddler as soon as possible. Since they were both about6 weeks old we have read to the kids before bedtime and I am pleased to say they LOVE reading. My son now reads to the little one every morning when she wakes up.

    I once wrote a post about how I can't remember any of the chemistry I studied because my brain is too full from memorizing Sandra Boynton books. (Our personal favorites are Barnyard Dance and Snuggle Puppy).

  5. I agree wholeheartedly. The earlier one starts, the better reader kids turn out to be. Like you, I started reading to my daughter very early and now she is an avid reader. Exposing them so early to books properly also teaches them to respect them - in all these years, not once has my daughter scribbled on or tore pages off a book.

    Don't worry about sniggers from anyone - mama always knows better!

  6. Goodnight Moon was the first boardbook I got for Jude--he loved it, as did Noah, but unfortunately chewed on it so much that there is not much left for Jabin to enjoy.

    My kids love to read. Going to the library is one of their favourite outings.

    Ayaan is SO CUTE!

  7. i couldn't agree more - i started reading to jett the first week he was home from the hospital. (i think my husband even thought i had lost it - or was just really sleep deprieved.) anyway- we still read to him often. he loves it - getting so excited when we sit down with a book. i always thought a book could take him places maybe i couldn't afford. his faves also include goodnight moon, brown bear- brown bear what do you see & guess how much i love you.

    it's so awesome to see that it pays off even for 1 yr. olds. ayaan is adorable - and i love his name.

  8. Thats great Rohini, great that you are not one of those 'plonking the babies in front of the TV' moms. You are giving Ayaan a most wonderful gift - the love of the written word. Great going!

  9. oh my mum raised me to be a reader as well, and look where it got me....

    .....trying to be punk, but too chicken to cut her hair like annie lennox.

    its the books I tell you.


    *hasty exit*


  10. im glad you think that way....ive seen so many parents just dumping their toddlers in front of the tv to watch cartoons just to keep them occupied and out of the parents 'way...

    you make me wanna be a mom SOONN!!

  11. [Patti] Learnt from my mom ;)

    [Mosilager] Getting him into sports is his dad's responsibility. Along with teaching him Maths...

    [eM] I think a monster that reads at the dining table is far better than a monster that won't eat unless the TV is switched on, no?

    [Mint] The Boy reads to The Girl? That's just adorable.

    [Gettingthere] I don't think that I've cracked the respect part yet though. Our copy of Goodnight Moon is barely held together with a lot of duct tape!

    [Talena] I think Goodnight Moon is worth buying again - it's the best bedtime book for babies.

    [Mamo] We have Brown Bear too - Ayaan likes that too but it's not one of his absolute favourites. 'Ayaan' means 'gift of God' in Arabic.

    [Pearl/ Grafx] We have a rule that the TV is never switched on when Ayaan is awake. It's been good for his erstwhile TV addict parents as well.

    [Punk] Can I call you that? I think I'll take my chances. Rather a well-read punk as a son than a well-behaved ignoramus.

  12. i so totally agree with you, especially about the 'reading at the table' monster as against the 'eating in front of the TV' monster. The former wins hands down. :)

  13. Hey, another person that names for meanings! We did that with all our kids--do you know how many names that eliminates, because the meanings are like, "Hill town" or "demon" or something else really awful? I love the meaning of Ayaan's name.

    Also, I guess I'm one of those dining-room-table-reading-monsters. I try not to read during a family meal, but if I'm by myself, (and sometimes with just the kids), I will usually be reading something. Oftentimes that's the only chance I get--that and my bathroom breaks!

    Hmmm...buying it again. I must be blonder than I thought, because that honestly did not occur to me. Although we have plenty of other books now, so I'm not sure it will happen. I'll think on it.

    Have a great Sunday! (Since I know it's nearly noon there, now, although I'm just getting ready for bed soon.)

  14. [Suemamma] However, eating at the table was one of the cardinal sins at our house so I don't think I am going to encourage that habit either!

    [Talena] Actually in India, almost all names have meanings. We didn't really pick the name for the meaning though. We liked the sound of it and checking on the meaning was just to rule out that it was not anything negative. You have yourself a great Sunday too - or whatever comes closest to it with three boys in the house :-)

  15. My son Karan also loves to be read to or rather to see the pictures and turning the pages is a favourite pastime of his. I find his love of books also very helpful on those exceptionally hyperactive days, when i'm exhausted running after him and he still has more energy left to go - i open a book and start reading or pretend laughing looking at it, and within a few minutes, Karan's plonked himself right next to me looking and turning the pages!!

  16. before you know it, he'll be reading books that you'd rather he didn't :)

  17. [Lawyermama] The same with Ayaan. And while the book-reading still requires a lot of participation and effort from me, I'd much rather do that than plonk him in front of the TV

    [4WD] That's inevitable. And I don't think much reading goes on in the types of books you mean ;)

  18. Never to young to start. I am a dyslexic dad but we have been reading to all of ours from very early age, I seems to have paid off. I love the excitment that have esp over choice of story.

  19. [Mark] My son is just starting to get choosy. So sometimes he will actually reject a book I have picked out, walk over to the book shelf and get one that he wants me to read!