Monday, October 28, 2013

Bookworm club

When I came home from work one afternoon, I didn't find Jordan with her two brothers. No one knew where she was. Even when I called out, there was no reply. For a moment, I was worried that she had slipped out of the house with no one knowing. Then I found her. She was sitting atop our luggage by the window in my bathroom reading; oblivious to my calling out for her.

It was such a wonderful sight that I forgot to admonish her for not hearing me and causing me to worry.

One of the things that Packrat tells me is how, regardless on how his parents were tightfisted with money, they surrounded him with books. I know someone else, whom I admire greatly for knowing everything under the sun and is very learned, whose mother uneducated herself knew enough to bring him to the library all the time as a child. So, we surrounded JED with books and it was something we always tried to do with the children from before they knew how to hold the books right side up.

My happiest moments have been to wake up to everyone crowded onto my bed with Jordan holding court and reading to her brothers; her brothers silent in rapt attention or to wake up and find the whole house quiet only to discover all three in their room with books strewn all over the floor and them spellbound by whatever book they were reading/ looking at. 

Did we teach them to love reading? We didn't explicitly tell them reading was good for them. We just never stopped them.

1. We surrounded them with books. Hand me downs, ordering books off their book lists from school, Book Depository or Fishpond or Amazon or setting them free and wild in the library. I am often tempted to save costs and space by just getting them to borrow books from the library but I have also realised that like me, they re-read their books, over and over again.

2. We let them read anything. My mother was a literary snob. She wanted me to only read Austen and Bronte and Dickens. I resisted, mostly because I didn't understand them when I was young. She claimed that I couldn't just 'eat ice-cream' as meals (translated, don't read Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew or Sweet Dreams books, depending on how old I was), I needed a more 'nutritional' diet (LM Montgomery, Alcott, Austen, Bronte, Dickens, Shakespeare). I fought her on it and read whatever I wanted to though I did eventually get to her list quietly (I didn't want her to know that I had actually heard what she said). So with JED, we pick books that we want for them to read or we want them to read to them but we also let them pick books for themselves. Usually the latter consists of character books Disney Princesses and the likes. I don't like them but they do and that's what counts. It has also meant that Evan reads a lot of science related books, Jordan a great number of fairy/ princess books though that's slowly evolving and Muffin anything with bright pictures.

 3. We let them read anywhere. The way I love to unwind at meal times, when I'm eating alone is to eat with a book. And we let them do that too, as long as we aren't all sitting together eating and as long as it doesn't slow their eating to a point where the oil in the soup has coagulated on the surface and the noodles have become so soaked they are twice the size.

This has also meant that we trip over them all over the house reading and find their books everywhere including under my bed covers and in my work bag. The only time we stop them from reading is when they are walking and reading. Jordan does this a lot because she saw Belle do it in Beauty and the Beast.

4. We get them audio books. An alternative to us reading to them has been to buy them books with CDs. This keeps them quiet and not fighting when I'm busy or when they are tired in the car. These books are read by people who have great variation in tone and it becomes a whole experience for them with music associated with it. We don't have a lot of them because they are more costly than just the regular books but the ones we do have, have paid for themselves in terms of cost-per-use.

It's gotten more fun as well because the twins can now read for themselves and to Muffin when they feel so inclined. They are also able to tell us about what they have read especially Evan, teaching me random science-y things.

Then, I read this article and I really liked it, especially the point of how reading to them what they wanted was a way of individually honouring and respecting their choices. It's meant we read or re-read an average of 3 books a night but it's the one time and situation where when they ask, we don't say no.


  1. i love love love the pic of jordan reading at the playground!!! Poppy reads a lot too. and yes we are always tripping over her and her books!

  2. Thanks Adora! I like the fact that they pick up anything to look at. Mommy's Time magazines, Papa's books on basketball technique, the occasional Tatler that mysteriously appears at my coffee table to the Ikea catalogue! But it bears watching what we leave round the house!