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Joys of reading with your kids9 June 2010
I WAS at a warehouse book sale with my five-year-old grandson. It was the last day of the sale. As I looked at the books spread out before me, I said to him: “If we had come on the first day, I would have grabbed more from a bigger range, but there’s less to choose from now.”
He seemed to ponder what I had said, then grabbed my legs! “Hey,” I protested as he chortled, “I mean grab things up here, not there!” He was soon back to choosing some for himself, and found one he was going to keep for his baby sister, soon to be born.
“I can read this to her when she is big enough,” he said.
That little sister, Sara, is now 17 months old but she had developed a love for books even before she turned one. This is mainly thanks to her parents who keep reading to her every day. Whenever my husband and I turn up to visit, she heads for a book and brings it to us to read to her. Then another book, and another, until we persuade her into doing some other activity like playing a game or sing and dance, all of which she also enjoys.
Yes, it’s never too early to get a child interested in books; it’s you who must make the time to sit with her, to point out all the little things on a well-illustrated page, to repeat words or numbers, and soon she will be repeating after you.
Do the actions and sounds where possible, for that makes it more fun. Little Sara would cover her ears to show she understood the word “thunder” (plus the sound) read to her. There are times she even sits by herself and “reads” to her teddy bear!
Seeing how much joy books have brought to my four grandchildren (the oldest is 12-plus), I keep popping up at book sales to grab some humorous or unusual books that I have never seen in our bookshops. Some may look a bit worn but their stories can be so “cute” that I don’t mind paying a few ringgit for them.
When the grandchildren come visiting, I usually have some new books for them to browse through. They choose whatever they fancy and one may wait impatiently for the other to finish the one she also wants to read. With the younger ones, we read together page by page.
Among the gems I have picked up from the warehouse book sales are the following:
Put Me In The Zoo by Robert Lopshire is about a strange spotted creature that wants to stay in the zoo but is thrown out because there is no room for him. Narrated in simple rhyme, the creature meets a little boy and girl and he shows them what he can do – throwing colourful spots on things around him – in a very entertaining manner. The pair finds a happy solution for him.
Where Will The Animals Stay? by Stephanie Calmenson tells of what happens to the animals when the zoo is being renovated. It’s really interesting how an old lady offers them a temporary home.
The Lake Mess Monster by Beverly Komoda relates the story of a monster that suddenly appears in a lake popularly used by families around there. They are not pleased with the monster’s seemingly playful antics and fail to catch him or chase him away. However, they finally “tame” him.
For the reluctant reader, try to get a book that entertains him. The book could perhaps be filled with amusing illustrations, or share riddles and tongue-twisters with him. Soon they will be asking you for more!
If you are fortunate to be near a library, a weekly visit there should be a treat. Pick some books for him and also let him choose his own. At bookshops, pay for a new book now and then, whichever catches his attention. Or bring him to the children’s section in a book sale.
The love of reading, inculcated from early childhood, will last a lifetime. It is a hobby that brings limitless pleasure. He’ll never be lonely or bored.