Air punch! I somehow seemed to have raised a reader and it feels like a major parenting coup. This has materialised in front of my eyes in the last few weeks and I can’t stop thinking about it. Rachel has now become like a little Matilda and she walks around with her nose buried in a book. She is also inherently clumsy so this needs to be monitored as she has started walking into door frames and not looking where she is going! If you want her attention you have to snap your fingers in front of her face, because as she turns each page she has been so transported to another time and place, that for that moment, the present day has ceased to exist.
Yesterday we went for a picnic to a wine farm and while she did spend time playing with the other kids, she also lay on a blanket under a tree, reading her Horrid Henry chapter book from beginning to end until she triumphantly brought it to me and told me that she should have brought the next one in the series along with her too. She now can also read to her brother and as I’m writing this I can hear her reading nursery rhymes to him in the next room.
We went recently and got library cards for the kids and I don’t know why I waited this long. You should have seen their amazement when they were told they could take SEVEN new books out. Libraries are special places and it’s also incredible how nostalgic they are: the books are still covered it that same plastic, and the librarians still use that little date stamp with the numbers and the ink, and there is still that same hushed reverence and the smell of pages and the idea of endless possibilities waiting for you.
Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while now will know that I’m a prolific reader. And it seems that’s pretty much all you need to do, is show your kids how wonderful and important reading is, and they will begin to model their behaviour on yours. I have tried to read them stories and picture books but I haven’t necessarily had time to do it every day. I will continue to keep that up though, for lots of various reasons but also because I want my little boy to be a reader too and it seems to me that there are fewer of those?
Both my parents read but it was my Dad who was always reading, and still is. He reads lightening fast and his knowledge of many subjects is phenomenal. Growing up, there was lots to do on a farm but once all your errands were over, and as the heat of the day shimmered across the gravel, there was nothing better than sitting on the stoep in the shade reading a book. We used to go into town once a week and I’d get my library card and stock up, and I’d read through that tottering pile and return them again the next week and repeat the process all over again.
I know that there are so many educational and academic reasons why a love of reading is important but as I’m not an educator I’m interested in the other stuff. In my experience, readers tend to be interesting people, empathetic people, people who are curious. They may not be perfect but they tend to have wider minds that are able to accept differences, and try to understand these differences, and I feel like the world and our country needs more of those people.
I also think that once the reading bug bites, it is pretty much there for life (well I hope so, anyway). Sure, there will be times when their interest wanes a bit, but books will always be there for them, waiting for them to return. In a time of screens everywhere and fragmented attention spans, I’m bursting with pride that she has chosen books, and that I’ve raised a reader. Long may it continue.
Photo by Robyn Rose