If you always have a book to read, you will never know the meaning of the words “loneliness” and “bored” so cultivate a friendship with reading before going out there to look for friends (or something like “Outside of a dog, a book is probably man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read”…. man can be replaced with woman/child/whatever we’re not nitpicking here).
So a handicrafts exhibition and book fair opened it’s doors yesterday morning. The tent is pegged exactly 1747 steps from home and we had been eagerly staking out the place once we found out that a “book by the kilo” is coming up bang in the middle of our walking path. Needless to say yesterday evening the kids did not need much motivation for coming out with us for a walk. “Book by the Kilo” is all I had to say and shoes magically appeared on those dainty feet. Funnily they had friends who had come over to play chess and monopoly and steal chicken from the kitchen (yeah that’s what happens when our cook roasts a bird and friends of the kids are over)… these friends hurriedly called up parents and got permission to go with us for the walk. Sonali was on a work related call handling some escalation at some stock exchange or bank or somewhere but all of us were getting kind of impatient so we told her “see you when we see you” and bolted out the door.
So we land up there and everybody gets to work browsing through the stock. Ira the youngest of the four kids is walking around going “I hate books, I can’t find anything in mathematics that is age appropriate for me” (oh yes trust me that one has a vocabulary that would put 15 year olds to shame and not just the kosher variety… she can get really angry and for now it’s a cute sight to behold except that well it’s not when she’s angry). We sometimes tease her by calling her “unpadh ganwaar” because she refuses to start reading properly on her own. By this age Ria, the elder one, was a voracious reader and here we have our Dyer ‘Scar Face’ Shelley stomping around a book fair shouting for whoever wishes to engage “I hate books!”.
Sonali joined us as well after her call got over. The eldest kid with me is 12 and she was like “don’t they have dresses” when we reached the place. By the end of it we had picked up more than we could possibly carry back. Each kid on average had picked up four books each and not one of them was a drawing/coloring/jokes/bored housewife tales sort of tome. Even our unpadh ganwaar had picked up four nice books aided by her elder sisters advise and yeah one of those was a book on grade 1 mathematics. We decided we will do multiple trips over the next 30 days that this fair is in play. So all the books got thoroughly scrutinized by Sonali and I and finally we hit the weighing scales. 3.2 kilos was yesterdays bounty. Everyone got their books to carry and headed back home. Once back home the little one not at all pleased by her tag of “unpadh ganwaar” settles down even before a shower and with supreme concentration loudly reads out one full book (well it’s a small childrens book but for her that’s big). We all cheered and hugged her and promised to never call her an “unpadh ganwaar” again (I have made that promise multiple times earlier but then she knows she can always get back at me by reading out a book loudly). Even as she finished the first book madam reached out for the second one and we had to literally drag her for a shower and force feed her dinner before she brushed her teeth and went to bed with the second book. Kid is going to be a voracious reader very soon I can see it coming.
As for me I got myself a John Le Carre, a surprising find in a book by the kilo shack considering this one is pretty rare or at least I had not heard of this one but then I am not as big a reader as Sonali and Ria are. Unapologetic about it considering I write and writers need to be not effected by what other writers have written before them else they run the risk of sounding similar in tone and tenor…. yeah that’s just my sort of logic people need not agree.
The learning from this particular raid on the book fair was that children need opportunities where they can indulge in books. Even kids who were dis-interested came away with books that they intended to and actually did read. If parents never take their kids to a book fair or a museum(or if parents make a face upon looking at baked pumpkin casseroles) how do they expect the kid to pick up that habit. Just pushing your kid into a sport or a hobby without actually helping build a foundation and providing a gradual introduction to the activity is bound to cause fatigue and eventual disinterest. I know for a fact that moms go and fight with the coaches at school to try and get their disinterested kids to run races or attend extra athletics coaching. It’s their way of doing things and maybe in the long run it works for them. For me the correct way is to take my children on a discovery route, let them discover walking, physical activity, reading, social connect on their own and then have the self propelled urge to follow through and see what else can be done. I feel that is more organic and sustainable. The joy of watching an angry little “unpadh ganwaar” graduate into a book worm who reads off a whole book (age appropriate) after she spends fifteen minutes running/walking to the book fair, then half an hour browsing for books she wants to read and then another fifteen minutes walking/running back home is much greater than the same six year old spending the evening watching Peppa Pig or some other crazy slime making videos.
Give it a shot, for the whole of this month make trips to the “book by the kilo” shack near your home…. raid a library in case there is no book fair near your home. Your kids will love it much more than the iPads and the mindlessness of PUBG assuming you show as much interest.