Tuesday, November 12, 2013

R is for (non) Readers

Some are born readers, some achieve being readers and some have reading thrust upon them... And then there are some who refuse to read even if it's thrust and thrust and thrust upon them..yeah that would be my twins.

We live in a house surrounded by books. I read. I have always read since we were kids. Our father would get these inexpensive Russian books for my sister and me and we would devour them within hours. Then we discovered Noddy and Enid Blyton and there was no looking back.. Amelia Jane, Malory Towers, St Clair's, Faraway Tree then on to Famous five, Secret Seven..... It was like unlocking a treasure chest. We'd wait for our weekly library period at school. We were issued two books ( a fiction and a biography). We'd read them at supersonic speed and then exchange with our friends before the week was through.

We'd read during tiffin break, during the bus ride home, over lunch and at bedtime. Classics, comics, thrillers, historicals... I read them all.

When I got married it was wonderful to find duplicates of my favourite reads in The Husband's collection, even though he is more of a non-fiction reader. Our bookshelf at home is nothing if not eclectic.

Since when the twins were babies they have absolutely loved stories. Beginning with Bubbles and Bruno I exhausted all the Doras and Noddys. I picked up stories from the Panchatantra. I trawled Indian mythology for interesting stories. They knew the Ramayana by the time they were three. And then tales of Lord Krishna and Hanuman.

I told them interesting anecdotes from famous scientists' lives.. Archimedes and Newton.. Einstien and Edison. I even told them bits of Harry Potter.. broke up bits of the story like episodes. They loved it. And still they wanted more so I made up stories, scores of them.

And I waited for the day they would start reading on their own.. And nothing.. They just didn't.

I brought them beautiful books.. 'pop ups' and 'sticker storybooks' and 'colour your own story books'. They oohed and aahed over them, they stuck the stickers and coloured the pictures and then moved on. I tried leaving an interesting story midway. They would simply pester me till they drove me crazy and I'd have to read it to them.

Did I overdo the story telling? Maybe. Did I put them off by trying too hard? Maybe. I'd just been so excited and impatient to share it all with them. There really are so many wonderful stories to share. Sigh!

They have crossed their seventh birthday and I am afraid it's already too late. I see hope for H.. He does pick up a book - not so much fiction but books on Dinosaurs and Sharks and other scary stuff (!!) yet I'm happy. N however, seems a lost case. She simply will not read.

One of those rare moments..
Oh I'm still trying and I'll keep trying but I'm slowly beginning to reconcile myself to having a non-reader for a daughter and trying to be okay with that. The thing is kids will be their own people, will have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes no matter how much we try to mould them a certain way. That's not to say I won't try to inculcate good habits inthem (Rather, what according to me are good habits).. but I have to learn to let go at some point.

It's a tough lesson in parenting, but one I need to learn and reiterate to myself over time.

Linking to ABC Wednesday


  1. I can relate to this post so much, OM. I started reading pretty early in life and now I cant imagine my life without books. I started just like you for Aaryan... read the stories aloud, then progressed to make him read while I listened and then sitting with him while both of us read our own respective books. Aaryan reads books but is not as keen as I am. His interest is more in buying them. I hope he takes up reading in a big way. In our case genes could play a role too... while I am avid reader, husband reads 2-3 books in a year!! SIGH!

  2. I'm afraid it was the same at our house too. When my boys were young I was always buying wonderful books and encouraging them to read, since I devoured mine.
    They just weren't peaked the way I was. It always made me feel sad.

  3. Fortunately, my daughter IS a reader. It's possibly a function of her parents being technologically inept, so she's not on TOO many devices.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  4. I also read all my life and I started as soon as I could read. My children are also readers. So was my husband.
    Of course we have a lot of books !
    Wil, ABCW Team.

  5. A long way to go yet on the reading journey. I've noticed some take to it later than others, and some not at all. Your stories sound wonderful.

  6. The fact that you have written a lengthy post shows that you have not yet learn to let go in their ways.But as they grow old and peers discuss about books,they will get drawn towards books,I am sure.
    Sadly,I am not a big reader but my daughters devour bookd in cartloads.

  7. Shilpa: ah then you know how I feel. I'm a bit like Aryan too.. I live to buy books because I'm a re-reader.

    Photowannabe: yeah it's sad.

    ROG: lucky you. You have a point. Yeah technology does play a part in taking away the charm of reading. It's very distracting.

    Wil: A Reader family! Nice.

    Joy: I'll wait for the day.

    KP: Hmm.. Yeah I still keep thinking how I can lure them to the world of books. It must be great to have a reader daughter. Buy her an extra book for me ;-).

  8. Google has some suggestions to offer:

    •Like TV time, have fixed reading time, begin with 10 – 15 mins, to go up as desired.
    •Reward for completing a book
    •Invent reading-related jobs, such as writing or reading the grocery list.
    •Tie movies or television into the books that they’re based on.
    •Have children retell favorite stories.
    •Have children evaluate stories—favorite character, plot.
    •Use TV sparingly and wisely.
    •When cooking, ask your child to read the ingredients list or the recipe.
    •In a restaurant, have your child read the children’s menu aloud.

    Finally, you keep trying, will happen if/ when it has to happen :-)

  9. Snigs: Did I tell you, you are the best? Am onto them with renewed effort.

  10. Very Interesting title for the letter "R". beautiful writeup.

  11. I've always loved to read. My daughter always liked reading too but at times she showed her independence by wanting to select all the books herself so we went to the library a lot. Carver, ABC Wed. Team

  12. That is such a shame - for you. Both my daughters are avid readers and the older one had wanted to be a literature teacher (but ended up finance - figure that!) I love to hold a book in my hand and turn the pages, reading sometimes until I can't see! Maybe one day your kids will find a book they can't put down and off they'll go to find more.

    abcw team

  13. I felt the same way about Gy initially. Wouldn't touch a book but loved my stories. Now, at 7, she's a voracious reader. Give it time. It will happen.

  14. Some start late. May be they will soon surprise you. :)

  15. i am a lazy reader :) great post

  16. Goodness!!
    This post is creepily similar to what I've been feeling for the last few days.
    In my excitement to introduce them to the words of stories, I think I did more harm in narrating them than making them read or try to read (at least through picture books). Now the two prefer my story-telling over picking up a book :(
    And also, ditto on the choice of books read as a youngster. Even the darn sequence is the same.
    :D :D

  17. Carver, Leslie.. You guys are lucky. What fun to have daughters who share your love for books.

    Shailaja, Indrani: You give me hope.

    Amarnaik: Ha ha.. Lazy reader, I like that.

    Momofrs: :-D... Talk about being over enthu!


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