Ever since I can remember, I loved books. I have this vivid memory of me visiting a large room full of books, which was a book sale, my mother took me to when I was about 6 or 7, before we were embarking on a longish plane journey. She told me to choose a couple of books I wanted and I came back with a whole lot.
She bought the thickest three from the pile and then hid them when we reached home saying she was saving them to keep me occupied on the flight. Well, guess what, I found them and finished them before I got on the plane.
So it’s safe to say that when, I was going to have a baby I wanted him or her to be a reader. To that effect I had my husband read to my moving tummy before the little one came into the world.
All was well till my son was about four months of age. The thing is, he is a spirited, high energy, high needs baby. He cannot stay still for long at all, and somehow the sight of books used to agitate him. I had to put aside the book and walk him or bounce him around to entertain him instead of reading. Cuddling and reading was a firm no no.
When he was around 6 months of age and grabbing things, he used to reach out and grab the book out of my hand the minute I opened it, gnaw on it and chuck it away.
Books agitated him. My vision was shattered. My child and me were meant to read together every night before I tucked him in. Oh well, I thought, maybe baby number two would be a reader!
Nevertheless, old habits die hard. I continued to research children’s books online and continued to buy them. I started forming a ritual, knowing that if I manage to form a habit, it would benefit my son greatly for all of his life. I know I am the person I am because of books and how they broadened my horizons, changed my perspectives and made me an individual.
I started sitting everyday on the floor of his room after his morning nap with 4 or 5 books, when he was about 9+ months old. I pulled out some toys for him to play with and just read out loud. He’d come to me and try and grab what I was reading and yell if I held on tight. Once I let go he would bite the book and fling it. I’d start on another one ignoring his tantrum.
A few days of this got rather old as I ignored him and continued reading out loud each day. He began to play with his toys while I read and read. I’d change my voice for different characters, chuckle out loud, get excited etc. while reading. Slowly he started getting interested and siding up to me to see what I was up to. Over time he would ignore his toys and just get interested in the book.
Finally it got to a point where I didn’t even bother taking out any toys. All I say now (since the past month) is, It’s time for your books. My baby drops everything and crawls at top speed to his bookshelf and waits till I choose 4 or 5 books we are going to read. I sit down on the floor and he crawls onto my lap. He hangs on every word, identifies with the pictures, tries hard to understand what I am saying, and gives me his undivided attention for about 20 minutes. (That’s a lot for a hyper baby who is less than a year old). Did I mention he sits on my lap? It’s rather hard to cuddle the little one for long spells due to his frenetic nature!
My advise then for raising a reader? Persevere, make reading time fun, and make it part of a cherished routine of mama (or papa) and baby time. I really enjoy reading those books and it shows!
Thanks for reading! Was your child always a book lover or did you have to develop the habit? Let me know in the comments.
Aloka Gambhir is a new mom (since October 2012). She is a fitness and nutrition enthusiast and a health and fitness blogger since 2011. She is a Mumbai mom following an alternative lifestyle called the paleo/primal or evolutionary lifestyle. She is passionate about helping fellow moms follow their instincts to a healthier lifestyle for themselves and their family by questioning the rules and conventional wisdom on her blog: www.wholesomemamma.in