Where are they coming from? Can we just rely on the never-ending availability of wonderful inspiring books to ensure this next generation? Well, of course, it helps and the array of books for children is totally and utterly A M A Z I N G. But how do we adults (be that family, friend or teacher) encourage the development of reading as a pleasurable habit?
I believed I’d been a great exponent of reading. I’d always thought my daughter lost her early love of reading and simply didn’t “get” back in to reading until she was an older tweenager for reasons outside of me. For when she was very young, it was one of our joint pleasures. We spent a lot of time reading together – even though I worked full-time. She had a very distinctive taste of her own – a bit dark, a tad snarky – and like all parents, I did that “I’ve no idea where you get that from” thing. An early favourite read was Roald Dahl’s “Revolting Rhymes” – the one about the Three Little Pigs in particular …
“Hello,” she said. “Who’s speaking? Who?
Oh, hello, Piggy, how d’you do?”
Pig cried, “I need your help, Miss Hood!
Oh help me, please! D’you think you could?”
“I’ll try of course,” Miss Hood replied.
“What’s on your mind…?” “A Wolf!” Pig cried.
“I know you’ve dealt with wolves before,
And now I’ve got one at my door!”
“My darling Pig,” she said, “my sweet,
That’s something really up my street.
I’ve just begun to wash my hair.
But when it’s dry, I’ll be right there.”
A short while later, through the wood,
Came striding brave Miss Riding Hood.
The Wolf stood there, his eyes ablaze
And yellowish, like mayonnaise.
His teeth were sharp, his gums were raw,
And spit was dripping from his jaw.
Once more the maiden’s eyelid flickers.
She draws the pistol from her knickers.
Once more she hits the vital spot,
And kills him with a single shot.
Pig, peeping through the window, stood
And yelled, “Well done, Miss Riding Hood!”
Ah, Piglet, you must never trust
Young ladies from the upper crust.
For now, Miss Riding Hood, one notes,
Not only has two wolfskin coats,
But when she goes from place to place
She has a PIGSKIN TRAVELLING CASE.
Sorry about that little indulgence … I imagine you’ll have guessed it’s one of my favourites too 😉
Reading then, was always a pleasure and not a chore. Not something that your mother said you ought to be doing. Later though, when she got older and had diversions – school and friends and other stuff – and when the pace of my life had become busier and fuller, she no longer saw me reading, for I never had the time. I kept saying how much I loved to read and how important it was, but … sadly it’s likely she saw me more frequently with a vacuum cleaner in my hand than a book (not a mistake I make anymore by the way). I was also so permanently tired that the moment I sat down, I fell asleep.
Fortunately, she found her own way back to reading. For I now realise that you have to keep feeding that love until it becomes a lifelong habit, and the best way to do that is by setting an example, by your child seeing you doing it – and copying what you do until it becomes their own norm.
I am delighted to see my granddaughter living in a home surrounded by books. In addition to stuffed bookcases, they reside in piles on side tables in every room – both books for her and books for her parents. My daughter’s smart device is seen so rarely in her hand (metaphors about dodos come to mind) that I am very hopeful my granddaughter’s current love of reading will transition seamlessly into a habit, which is A Good Thing, as I may be the grandmother who got into trouble for having already filled her bookcase …
© Debra Carey, 2018