“Life being very short, and the quiet hours of it few, we ought to waste none of them in reading valueless books”, said John Ruskin in Sesame and Lillies in 1865. What Ruskin told us around 150 years back is still valid. Do you agree? How many of us feel happy when a specific book has made such an impression that it is etched into our souls. A school textbook, an article from a magazine, an Enid Blyton story, a Jane Austen novel or even a grandma’s lullaby or anything that has helped us in comprehending the intricacies of life is unforgettable. We all understand the value of books, don’t we? We all know how it contributed to our growth as a person. But before I proceed, I want to make sure I convey the message that when I talk about books adding value to our lives, the value is to our soul alone and nothing monetary.
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What makes me feel sad today is that books have taken a backseat in the life of a child. The advent of technology has eased our life definitely. But it has robbed us of our books. Tablet games, Playstations et al are interesting but how much value can they add in the long run? Children see gadgets as toys rather than as learning tools. This is natural considering their maturity level. A book is not that complicated. But a child needs a real book with real pages. She needs to know the joy of doing mischievous acts like Dennis, to fly on a carpet like Aladdin, to see beautiful Snow White, or to listen to Pied Piper’s addictive music. Has your child experienced all these? We have, when we were children. I remember taking so many books from the library during summer holidays and literally devouring them.
So, what can a book do to a child anyway? I am no expert in child psycholgy but I feel a book will add a dash of imagination to a child’s mind. He/she will be able visualise what the author writes in the book and enter the magical world of the book. This also helps the child understand what is real and what is not. Reading a story to the child from a book and making him/her corelate the pictures and words is a fruitful exercise. A child understands words in pictures. What a fantastic teaching that is. Today, the same concept is used in presentations, white papers, etc. A picture is worth a thousand words indeed! Books meant for learning to read, definitely help the child to start reading earlier. Encyclopaediae are lifelong treasures for a child. They can easily match what they see in real life with the book. How about newspapers? The sections on science and technology and children sections are worth a shot.
Read to your child
But can the child do all this alone? No. S/he needs our help. Parents and guardians around the child should make time for reading books. We must sit with the child and first assure her/him that we are also part of the wonderful book reading journey. Once the child is secure, s/he will pay attention to us. When this becomes a habit the child automatically will read and show interest towards reading.Buy a book as a gift to the child. Toys are good but books are are the best gifts we can give to a child. Make an effort to select a book by the age group and what would enrich the child in future. Read bedtime stories to the child. The activity not only strengthens the parent child relationship but also creates a place in the child’s heart. “Read aloud” books are fantastic in terms of their simplicity and suitability. There are many libraries today which deliver books at the doorstep. Browse a book for your child and get it delivered. The child will love it when a book comes all the way to her/him. It will arouse her/his interest.
Sometimes parents tend to feel they maybe burdening the child if they introduce the child to books which may seem to be at a high level. But do not let this deter you. Every piece of information is worth sharing with your child. Nothing is too difficult or small for her/him. The child sees the information as it is. As her virtue of judgement is still raw, the child absorbs whatever information we give him in its original form without attaching anything too it. For instance, my son could name all planets and their moons at the age of three. And how much he enjoyed the journey of outerspace. The book which made him learn all this was a 3D planet book that he still loves.
Go ahead and let your child enter the world of books. Watch how it can enrich her life.
Gayatri Devulapalli is a homemaker who blogs at Go Ahead and Read!