My love for reading began when I was 3 years old with the hindi women’s magazines ‘Manorama’ and ‘Sarita ‘, the only stuff omnipresent in my house qualifying for literary material. Those came out as monthly editions and served as recipe guides and knitting guides for my mother. My interest was the comic strip ‘Shrimatiji’ which appeared in them and the narration of which was entrusted upon my mother. In no time, thanks to her laborious job of narrating numerous times each day,the stories of Shrimatiji’s household would get encrypted in my heart and mind or in simple terms I would mug it all up. The high level of precision with which I would point my finger towards a word and blurt it out correctly much to the admiration of the Uncles and Aunts in the family gatherings would have definitely earned me a Six Sigma Black Belt certificate. Its unfortunate that Motorola came up with it a couple of years later and by that time I was already in school and my genius had fallen prey to the Indian Schooling System which cared nothing for my interest in comics and bombarded me with a long list of dreary subjects.
My next encounter with literature, outside my school syllabus, ensued when I was 8 years old. It was my 8th birthday and my father gifted me my 1st story book. Thereafter, every year he would take me and my brother to the book stall in the Dusshera Mela to buy us books.
But, living in a small town in the hindi hinterland with not much awareness and avenues, my tryst with English Literature remained an annual affair limited to the Dusshera Mela. Later, the reading part dwindled to the course text books and the pressure of securing good marks disrupted my romantic liaison with English Literature.
I was later able to re-kindle my love for books and reading after completing my studies and securing a job. Although I have been regularly reading for the last 10 years but still I feel I have alot to catch up. It makes me realize I would have been a lot more wiser if I would not have missed reading in my school years.
When my son was born, I decided I would introduce him to the books pretty early in life and sow the seeds of love for reading in him. So I bought him his first baby touch books when he turned 8 months. From baby touch books, he graduated to picture books soon after he turned 1 and now after 2 years we have a houseful of books for him comprising of a combination of graphic illustrations books, simple story books, Dr Seuss, alphabets and number books and many books dedicated to his interest in buses, cars, diggers etc. The books remain unevenly distributed across all the rooms so that no opportunity gets lost in the event of exploring books.
We have a daily ritual of reading atleast 2 books just before sleeping at night, one a short story book and the other would be any other favourite of his. The key to generate his interest has been to infuse some dramatic expressions and the pitch adjustments while reading the stories. If any day Dhruv refuses to tidy up his toys at dinner time, he is told that no tidy up means no reading at bed time. Not being able to read (though I am the one who does the reading for him) sounds too much of a punishment to him and the toys get tidied up very fast. This leads me to think may be I have been able to attain some feet in developing his interest in books and reading at such a young age.
Today, when I was confidently informing daddy about this milestone, he told me this is no big deal. When he was a kid he used to read alot of comics, champak etc and Dhruv is also going through the similar phase and whatever he reads or I read to him is just like comics and champak for him.
Though I disagree with daddy but at the same time he has left me thinking that I will be able to make a difference with Dhruv only when I remain consistent in my efforts to teach him reading making him an independent reader and to be able to steer his interest to books of every genre.