Curling up with a book and losing myself in its pages is my definition of bliss. I’ve been a reader all my life and finding time for it has never been impossible. Yes, there are periods when I have the time to read a lot and days when all I get in are a few pages but the book is always on my bedside.
I often get to hear that children don’t read anymore and technology is to blame.
Here’s what I remember from my childhood: I was one of few in my school who read. Really… it was a handful of us who depended on each other’s limited cache of books. The town I grew up in had one bookstore with one tiny section for children’s books, barely any variety and no public libraries. We still persevered, our little bunch of readers and lapped up whatever we could get our hands on.
I now have a twelve-year-old boy and a ten-year-old girl, both of whom love to read. I was tempted to begin that last sentence with ‘luckily’, but I didn’t because I believe it takes more than luck to get kids hooked to books.
Or getting so lost in the pages that you even feel like one of the characters?
The one thing that worked with my children and what I think worked for me as a child has been the fact that we were all introduced to books early on in life. I do believe that is the key to having any chance of raising a reader. How early is early? A few months old, if that.
I began reading to my older one when he was 3 months old. I’d prop him up in my lap with a book before us and I’d read. By the time he was a year old, he would make me repeat the same words in a picture book a couple of hundred times. By the time he was three-years-old, I was mumbling stories in my sleep since he would want to hear the same story over and over again, ten times in a row. At age ten, I was and forbidding him from reading while he brushed his teeth. At twelve, I gently nudge him to try different genres even as he laps up fantasy and comics and every now and then, I am rewarded with a, ‘That book was really good. You should read it mama’.
Remember being little and imagining yourself as a princess?
With my younger one, she loves books and stories but had a tougher path to independent reading. I’ve read to her for longer, something that is scientifically proven to help and is encouraged. The reason I mention this is that children have their own path to reading. Sometimes, it is about finding that one book/graphic novel/sports mag that hooks them. That allows them to slow down and sit and read. She’s now taking bigger steps on her own and my greatest joy is to go searching for my children when things seem dangerously quiet at home, only to find them both with their noses in their books.
Unlike that one dingy corner in the bookstore that I had access to as a child, we now have a range of books by Indian and international authors available in India. There’s a robust Indian publishing industry that is creating relevant, contemporary and diverse literature, largely set in India. E-commerce and niche bookstores and online sites that curate collections have made books accessible, wherever you might be. Book review sites and social media groups of children’s book enthusiasts who share recommendations are some great places to find out more.
If you’re wondering where to find books that allow you to begin early, Shumee, right here, is a great place to find them!
More about Natasha
Natasha Sharma is an award-wining children’s book author with fifteen books published till date. Her writing spans picture books including the ever-popular titles Icky, Yucky, Mucky, Rooster Raga and Princess Easy Pleasy, early chapter books and historical fiction for young children in the History Mystery series.