An unsolicited advice to parents: please raise your kids to become book readers.
Start them young. Wean them on the written word. Make them love reading books so much that taking away their books will be for them a punishment as horrible as grounding them.
Shower them with books so they will follow Tom Sawyer and his (mis)adventures. Introduce them to Ebenezer Scrooge and why he was haunted by the ghosts of his Christmas Past. Let them be inspired by the bright and imaginative carrot-haired Anne of Green Gables. Enchant them with Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole where she finds a peculiar wonderland (don’t forget to delight them with the Jabberwocky nonsense poem!). Make them dab a few tears with A Little Princess. Get them chanting “Open Sesame!” with Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Let Scheherazade charm them with her One Thousand and One Nights stories.
Make sure also to include in their reading list Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, which is my all-time favorite classic. This Pulitzer Prize winner is about family, heroism, friendship and injustice. I can’t get enough of the adorable Scout.
I know these books are classics, and most of these you probably won’t find in bookstores anymore.
But there’s always the secondhand book shops. Bring your kids book hunting with you, scouring those little bookshops-around-the-corners or the piles of used books in garage sales. You don’t know what gems you might find.
Besides, this would make a good, physical activity with your kid, right? Rather than just letting them park their arses in front of the TV or the computer screen during weekends.
I know I’m not in a position to hand out parental advice, being a single woman in her 30’s who doesn’t even have a hint of a prospective husband in her crosshairs right now (you kinda need the husband first before you can get the kids) .
But I was a kid once. I was raised by parents, particularly a father, who love books so much that he plied his daughter with books, ignoring her pleas for Barbie dolls instead. And I’m glad he that he did. (For the record, he did eventually buy me a Barbie).
A journalist and editor from the Malaysian Reserve who I met during the ASEAN-India visit, Habhajan Singh, told me how he and his wife’s method of discipline for their two daughters is taking away their books.
He said this is effective for them because both his kids are avid readers. I wish there were more parents like Hab out there.
I cringe at how much the young kids now are missing out by spending a huge chunk of their time on their iPads, TV, and laptops or PCs. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing, because technology has given a lot of good in this world.
But these technologies we’re enjoying today are the products of readers. They were foreseen and eventually crafted into reality by people whose imaginations feasted on books.
It doesn’t have to be a traditional, old-fashioned paperback or hardbound book. It can be an e-book. Whether pixel or paper, it doesn’t matter.
Just please, get them to read and love reading.∗