Reading is good. As Oscar Wilde so succinctly tells it: “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”
Being an avid reader from an early age meant that I felt kind of unprotected without a book to hang on to. Once, years ago, we had some guests over. I was about ten and was asked to get some water for the new arrival. After fifteen minutes of embarrassed waiting, mom turned up. While getting water from the kitchen, I had espied an article on a newspaper bag containing some groceries. Painstakingly ungluing the packet, I was so engrossed in reading that I forgotten all about the guests. And I was reading Mills and Boon by twelve!! My poor mom, her curiosity tickled by the garishishly done up covers of one of those romances, was scandalized to read them. “Come on Mum”, I reasoned, “Been reading them for a year now, so the damage is done.”
The best part of parenting is getting to mold the soft adaptable clay that your child is, into a vessel full of wisdom and beauty. This was roughly my attitude when I gazed at my two year old daughter.
The initial years went fine. Her introduction to books was through those lovely card things with pop out features in striking colors. Good to look and easy to go through – these board books were quite a hit. My daughter went through them regularly, even scribbling on them with her crayons. “Personalization!!” I gushed, ever the doting mom.
But then on it went steadily downhill. The bright magazines I bought for her went to the raddiwalah unread. At the age 7 or 8, I got her books that she did not even glance at. (Whishing Chair, Mr. Pink Whistle, Tom Sawyer… et al) there was serious trouble in paradise. Any child of mine not taking to the written word like fish to water was a serious issue.
This episode from my daughter’s school when she was about eight, was literally the last straw. She was asked to write a book review. Miss smarty two pants glanced through the book, read the synopsis at the back and voila – the book review. The teacher caught on and insisted that my daughter read the book, there and then. She even put a boy on duty to check that the book was actually read. This is what my daughter did in her very own words.