Gift a passion for reading | Sunday Observer

Gift a passion for reading

9 January, 2022

We are generous when it comes to giving gifts. For birthdays and anniversaries we buy expensive gifts. However, the best gift every parent can give to a child is a passion for reading. As parents all of us have high hopes for our children. Some of them are good health, happiness, interesting and fulfilling work and financial stability. But the day I realized my little daughter could read was one of the happiest days in my life.

Children begin to read in different ways over different periods of time. Still, there is much parents can do to help their children develop and enjoy a lifelong passion for reading. Until you discover what your child likes to read, select books that you loved to read when you were a child.

Your child is likely to love the books you have read. In case you cannot decide what books are ideal for children, consult your librarian to suggest authors who will appeal to them.

Reading is a habit you should cultivate when you are a child. When a child is hooked on reading, he will go on reading even when he becomes a teenager. Children love to read story books. Give a story book to a child and watch how he reacts to it. Allow the child to read at his own speed. When children become mature readers, encourage them to read the stories for you. He will be thrilled to hear his own voice.

Lifetime investment

Parents should take their children to libraries and bookshops to give them a feeling of books. Some children simply love to touch illustrated story books. That is the first sign of interest in books. First you touch the pages and then you try to read them. Intelligent parents encourage their children to fill their bookshelves at home. When you are on a shopping spree with your child he may ask for a treat. Buy him a book as a treat. In addition, give a book for every birthday. Encourage relatives and friends to do the same. Buying a book for a child is a lifetime investment.

When a child grows up he will realize that reading is a way of understanding himself and the world around him. Both are unknown territories for him. Parents pass along chunks of themselves to unwitting, often unwilling recipients.

Therefore, books are one of the simplest and most sure-fire ways of doing it. If an adult reader decides to decorate his room with bookshelves, do not take him to be an eccentric. That is the best thing that can happen. The books will give them a passport to visit many unknown worlds.

When a child says “I’m finished with it,” it means that he has read and understood a particular book. Unless the child is encouraged to read regularly he will begin to say that he has no time to read. An average Sri Lankan child spends about four hours a day watching television. Similarly, an average child can read at a rate of 250 words per minute. Based on these statistics he can read a story book within a few hours. When he grows up he will be able to read Maya Angelou’s poems and William Faulkner’s ‘The sound and the Fury’ within a couple of days.

Read for life

The greatest of all avenues to learning – to wisdom, adventure, pleasant insight, to understanding human nature, understanding ourselves and our world and our place in it – is in reading books. Reading should not be confined to a particular phase in your life. Instead read for life, all your life.

Nothing ever invented – films and television – provides such sustenance, as a good book. Always read to your heart’s content and let one book lead to another.

In the process of reading, you will take up a great author and read everything he has written. For instance, after reading J. Vijayatunga’s ‘Grass for My Feet’ I was tempted to read some of his other books such as ‘Rodiya Girl and Other Stories, Island Story’ and ‘What I think.’ When you become a mature reader, read books that have changed the world. One such book is Tom Paine’s ‘Common Sense.’

Instead of reading pulp novels, read a classic that stays long in print. When a book stays in print for several centuries, it is something exceptional.

When we were students we carried a book wherever we went. Our Latin master called such a book a ‘Vade mecum’ (come with me). Today mobile phones have replaced books. It is a pity that young people think that carrying a book is no longer fashionable. Carrying a book wherever you go is an old and good advice. John Adams urged his son John Quincy to carry a volume of poetry. “You will never be alone,” he said, “with the poet in your pocket.”

Taste for literature

If you develop a taste for literature from a young age, you will soon realize its importance to life. Literature duplicates the experience of living in a way that nothing else can, drawing you temporarily forget you have one of your own. That is why you read a novel, and why you might even sit up in bed till dawn, throwing your whole tomorrow out of whack. You want to find out what will happen to the protagonist who is only a made-up character.

Research shows that spending time with a story can encourage positive thinking and fortify friendships. Raymond Mar, Associate Professor of Psychology at York University in Toronto says, “Great reads have great potential to spark imagination and absorb a person in another world. Stories you read can provide a life-changing perspective. Getting wrapped up in the lives of characters strengthens your ability to understand others’ feelings.

When you see the world through the eyes of Jane Eyre, you will find it easy to relate to your sister-in-law’s viewpoint. When you read a novel you identify yourself with a particular character. When this happens you experience a kind of real-life relationship that can enhance your sense of inclusion. Similarly, a happy ending will lift your spirits. However, novels can drum up positive feelings in subtler ways. Even minor events in the story can brighten your day.

Today our homes are full of televisions, stereos, and other electronic distractions. If you hope to make your home reader friendly, make sure that there is a wide variety of reading materials available. Do not confine yourself to one type of books.

A friend of mine had a library full of detective novels – nothing else. You need to have a balanced collection: fiction, non-fiction, comic and joke books, newspapers, coffee table books and a wide variety of magazines. Also you should have a quiet place to read. If you do not have a proper place to read, go outside. Go to the nearest park or sit outside on a porch or in the garden.

Whatever book you read, it is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it or explore a dangerous idea fearing it will go off in your face. A book is one of the few sources left where information is served up without the silent black noise of headline or a commercial. It is one of the few havens remaining where a man’s mind can get both provocation and privacy.

According to new research, reading helps to increase your mental potential. If you read paying particular attention to unfamiliar words, you will add new words to your vocabulary. Reading also helps logical thinking, problem solving and enjoying the satisfaction that comes with expanded mental activity.