My daughter’s love affair with books and stories began when she was around 8 months old, I guess when my wife gave her one of her sister’s old books which she had won as a kid in school. This ‘almost 20 yr old’ book, Rapunzel, which had been won as a consolation prize at her school ended up being little R’s inseparable companion for quite a few days continuously.
While I am sure she didn’t understand anything about the story, the fact remains that the way in which her Amma told the story, or the way in which I used to enact the story out to her kept her engrossed with it. It became a bedtime ritual, it accompanied most of her meals, and thus began her love affair with the ‘written word’. I say ‘written word’ in quotes as I am sure it is her obsession with stories more than the words themselves which make her such an avid reader at this age.
My wife and me have always been reasonably avid readers and with the exception of really crazy busy times at office and work pressures, we have both managed to keep up with this habit reasonably well. The long commutes to and from office when I was in Chennai managed to re-‘kindle’ the reading habit in me, more so with my newly acquired Kindle (hence the quotes). And the post delivery break meant that my wife also renewed her love for books. While our tastes in books have slowly started to diverge, the fact remains that both of us do spend some time with our reading, and this is something that little R had probably noticed right from the beginning.
And as the saying goes “Parents are the first teachers of the child” and as if parents were not enough, little R’s grandfather also is an avid reader, although that habit took the backseat for quite a while when we moved down to Bangalore and he didn’t have enough time to spare for books after playing throughout the day with his granddaughter. In any case, she has seen both her grandparents also spending time with their newspapers and books, and I am sure this also made quite an impression on her.
Starting with Rapunzel, moving on to books with alphabets, numbers, colors, vehicles, animals, vegetables, birds, reptiles, insects, you name it and she has devoured all of them with equal gusto. At one point of time, the wife and I were so exhausted with all the book shopping that we just gave up and accepted defeat. And all this when the little one is barely 26 months old now. That being said, both of us are thrilled at her love for books, and sincerely hope she continues to love the written word for the rest of her life for more reasons than one.
Another aspect which probably encouraged her book reading habit was the fact that the television was all but dead at home during the first year of little R. While we had a nice big screen LCD TV with a nice DTH connection, the fact that I wasn’t at home from around 6.30 in the morning till around 7.30 at night, and pretty much asleep at all other times meant that the TV was switched off for most of the day except for around 30 odd minutes. And this I am sure went a long way in not building a TV addiction for little R. Even today, when we hear other parents talk about how their kids eat only when they see Doraemon or some other cartoon on TV, my wife and I look at each other and steal thankful smiles that we are not in the same predicament.
What is even more surprising is the fact that little R, up to a few months ago, was not even interested in toys as well. While she would play with her toys for a maximum of 30 odd mins at a stretch, she would happily sit with her books, staring at them, talking to them, talking about them for longer periods of time. Till date, she doesn’t have her one favorite toy or stuffed doll that she needs to take with her wherever she goes, but she does need to have at least 4 of her books whenever she travels. Now, if that isn’t the true sign of a book lover, what is.
On more than one occasion I have thanked God that we had almost stopped watching movies (another activity which we so love doing together) by the time little R was born, else she would have turned out to be a movie fanatic by now. Now, that is not a bad thing in itself, but it’s just that too much of the audio-visual experience at this age, that too of the movie variety would surely have ended up in some unnecessary complications, wouldn’t it.
I would love to hear what your kids are/were obsessed with when they were around 2 yrs old. Did they love their stuffed toys, cartoons, books, or nursery rhymes, more? Please do let me know by sharing your stories in the comments section.
PS: The little girl in the picture is NOT my daughter 😀 although I am sure that I could take a similar pic of hers in a few years’ time.