21 January, 2008

The Joys of Reading ....

I’d forgotten the simple pleasure of teaching a child to read.

By read, I mean – as in putting the phonics of each alphabet in a word together and reading the whole word.

Sounds easy, I know.

But look at the whole process from the viewpoint of children and all of a sudden “reading” gets tinted with a whole new light. For children, learning to read by themselves is a huge step. From reciting the phonetic equivalent of just a single alphabet to putting those phonetics together, making a word out of it and pronouncing it – is no easy task.

Both the siblings, right from very young ages, have been in the midst of books – a lot of books. Be it the “touch and feel” books, the hardboard alphabet books, hardboard number books or the books that came a little later – the little story books with big block letters ....... books have always been a mainstay of their lives. Regular trips to the public library, almost every week and sometimes twice during the vacations, further cemented their love for books.

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney

Books stirred and spurred a world of imagination, of fantasy where words, colors and pictures come together to create vivid, vibrant, beautiful stories. They soon came to realize that such “flights of imagination” with books for company could be totally “out of the ordinary”. The appeal lay in the fact that they could lay open their imagination, their creative senses and give each of the stories a twist and a turn, as they chose.

With both the siblings, their love for stories and books initially started with books being read out to them. With Aparna, that need to “read” a book started sometime very early on in her Primary One year. I still remember how we’d sit and pore over the big letter books together in an attempt to piece each and every word together phonetically. And if ever a word eluded her, she’d seek help from the pictures in the book – looking at the pictures and trying to piece the story together and then get back to working on the elusive word.

The going was slow but it sure was fun. Gaffes were aplenty but they just served to make the whole process more amusing and entertaining. Now, seldom do we see Aparna without a book. She’s a very avid fan of Enid Blyton and her works as also authors like Mary Pope Osborne.

"There are many little ways to enlarge your child's world. Love of books is the best of all." ~ Jacqueline Kennedy

Abhay, until a few months back, had been quite content in having the books read out to him. It was about three months back that the need in him to “read” the books by himself began to take hold and manifest itself. Picking up on the cues, all we did was follow them. It first started with the hardboard books. He would pick out the books and then we would sit and spell the words out together. He was already conversant with plenty of spellings – thanks to the time we spent on SpellTime.

We borrowed a couple of “Starting to Read” books – Level 1 from the library. And got started. Books had caught his interest and once he's hooked onto a particular activity, he is like a dog with a bone.

And slowly but surely, we’ve gotten to a point where he is able to read the Level 1 books by himself. He concentrates, he perseveres and he enjoys that feeling of having accomplished the goal of putting the alphabets together and reading them.

Initially, his concentration was so intense that he would be hellbent on just reading the word – paying very scant attention to the storyline. Now that the art of reading a word is being steadily mastered, he reads the words individually, takes time to absorb the pictures in the book in all their colorful detail and once he reaches the last word of a sentence, he starts all over again – this time around stringing the whole sentence in one go. And now, over the past week or so, he is more or less able to keep abreast of the storyline while reading the words and stringing the sentences.

And that smile just keeps getting wider.

Like someone once said

"TV. If kids are entertained by two letters, imagine the fun they'll have with twenty-six. Open your child's imagination. Open a book. "

post signature

7 voice(s) said so:

choxbox said...

way to go abhay!

the last quote made me smile :)

nosh n reh's mum said...

Hi Gauri...:) never chanced on your blog until you left a comment on mine and I am SO glad you did. Can't imagine how I missed your blog. I'm just dying to read everything in the archives.
Thank you so much for your prayer for us and my Dad, it meant a lot.
I'm waiitng for the day Nosh and Reh get addicted to Enid Blyton too. I asked my nieces here and they said she wasn't too known in America. Don't know how accurate that info is but I havent seen her yelling out from the shelves in the libraries either. I was wondering whether I'd have to lug her in from Amazon.com.
I'm so glad I have your blog to read!

GettingThereNow said...

Yay!! for Abhay! There IS so much pleasure in watching them string together letters and then words and then comprehend the story!

Preethi said...

Kudos to Abhay!! Reading is a great pleasure.. and a wonderful world...

Neera said...

Atta boy!! It gives me immense pleasure too to see a child reading! Read on and have fun!
Kudos to u too Gauri for filling them up with love for books!

Orchid said...

atta boy! and atta girl gauri...now that you've set abhay's reading in motion as well, you can pretty much sit back and watch them grow, shape their own lives!

Gauri said...

ChoxBox : Thanks :-)

Nosh n Reh's mum : emailed you

CeeKay, Preethi, Neera, Orchid : Yeah, isn't it ? Reading opens up a whole new world and we're so happy and excited for him.