Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The kind of parent I want to be #2: Books

My husband and I are both readers. You cannot be an effective writer without being a reader and while writing does not rely solely on learning from reading, reading is important for a number of other reasons.

The most important, to me anyway, is information. You can never go wrong with learning, whatever it might be that you're trying to learn. In fact, no one should ever stop learning and reading books is a good way to do so. More often than not, you don't even realise you're learning something which makes it even more fun and easier to retain the information.

Digital versus paper, I will never let my children be ignorant of the joy of holding a book in their hands, sniffing the crisp new sheets or old, dusty pages. I have sworn this so many times already. I appreciate technology; the husband actually thought I was protesting against the whole idea of digital books. I love technology. I love watching it develop. But books the pages of which I can physically turn and wear down will never beat an iPad or Kindle no matter how many books each one can carry.

I've been reading since I was 2 and 1/2. Of course, back then I was just mimicking the sounds I heard and I just barely understood what was going on. But by the time I was three, I'd built up enough vocabulary to be the chatterbox that I still am today. And I want that for my kids. I want my kids to be able to travel to distant worlds and be friends with talking animals.

I've seen parents expect their kids to be readers when they themselves are not. Of all the most ridiculous things. As a child, I tell you this, parents: Do not hope to encourage your children to do things you don't do. We might not have the word for it early on but there is one thing that makes you: a hypocrite. And note that "don't" is different from "can't" or "won't." As used in tonight's context, if you don't read, don't expect them to read either. If you can't read, learn. If you won't read, don't force your kids to.

Simple? Yes? No? Moving on.

My mum read me to sleep sometimes too. But as soon as I learned how to read, I began to prefer reading myself to sleep. Somehow the mental movie just looked better that way. I believed so much in the existence of all the characters I read about that one of my childhood imaginary friends was Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Come to think of it, this may be why I was and still am such a grouch.

I can't claim to be wide reader. The fact is, there are many things that I believe I should have read but I haven't, and many things that my peers read that I have given the pass.

I don't have any particular theme or motif to the subjects I read either. If you were to look at the bookshelves in our bedroom (most of the books are still mine as I have yet to add more shelving to make room for the husband's books) I have:

  • one shelf devoted to specific branches of European Royalty--Tudors, Stuarts (by association), Bourbons, Romanovs, and a general listing of Egyptian pharaohs
  • a selection of world events and sensational stories--the Titanic, World War II, JonBenet Ramsey, and the Shroud of Turin just to give an idea what kinds of things you can find there
  • a section that revolves around myths, magic, and religion which includes books on mythology (the myths themselves and critical readings on them), books on the supernatural and, yes, witchcraft (I do not practice this but I find the topic interesting to read about), Harry Potter, and Lord of the Rings*
  • mystery and suspense novels including Sherlock Holmes, the original 56 hardbound Nancy Drew books, Stephen King and Mary Higgins Clark
  • classics
  • children's and young adult books the pride of the collection being my Enid Blyton books
  • general references
The truth is, each room in our house holds its own mini library. The list above reflects the ones I have in my collection. Add to those my husband's books then we have another section entirely on fantasy and science fiction.

One bedroom has all the books on home improvement, gardening, and crafts. Another holds the books on a wider selection of mystery novels, Peanuts, Garfields, and cats. A hallway holds a selection of pocketbooks and biographies of varying types. Oh and we have business and marketing books in the home office.

Eventually the bedroom currently dubbed the "bear room" because it holds my collection of stuffed animals will become our kids' nursery and so the children's and young adult books will be moved there. We are, at the moment, praying for more funds so we can buy the lots next to ours and build a private library there.

I'm not kidding. Now, where was I again?

I grew up seeing my mum reading books. Lots and lots of them. In the bedroom, in the bathroom, the living room...books everywhere. My first language was English because all my books were in English and British English at that. Of course, being Filipino I had to un-learn my British spelling in favour of the American spelling taught to us at school. Another very good friend and dear sister turned that back around ten years ago. ^_~

Awesome as a style dictionary as far as
I'm concerned. Nina Garcia for the win. :3
These days I've been so (mentally/psychologically) tired that I've only had time for light reading which often means young adult literature and fashion magazines. I'm not calling them "light reading" as a put down but compared to reading the biographies of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, the politics of the period, and analyses and criticisms on each one...

I've just finished Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins...for the second time...and now I'm concentrating on learning from Nina Garcia's The One Hundred, after which I will read The Style Strategy. Those who know me will recognise the method to this madness especially since I've never been the fashionable or stylish type.

This is the world I want my children to see. Aside from the things they'll learn from us and their immediate surroundings, I want them to travel long before we've loaded them into whatever vehicle to take them to distant places. I want them to fly with Peter Pan, go under the sea, have tea with the Hatter.

I want them to grow up thinking their parents are the best ever for showing them how to travel without leaving their seat. And I will look forward to the adventures we will share with each other.

* Some may find it an object of debate why my books on religion are stored alongside subjects that are decidedly of another belief system entirely. This is one subject I will not willingly discuss on the Internet but talk to me over coffee and we can give discussing this a go.

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