Friday, June 07, 2013

Day 7 - The downside of loving to read

I have written before about my love for reading and how it eclipses everything else in my life.

The issue has come to the forefront again, with Puttachi getting hooked to books.  One part of me exults, because it means that entire worlds are going to be opened up for her, she'll never be bored if she has a good book with her, and as long as she remembers to take a book with her, no wait will ever feel long or boring.

But the other part of me worries that it will take over her life as it has mine.

A few weeks ago, I had taken her along with me to the doctor, and there was a long wait ahead.  She had a book with her, and so she didn't whine even once.  She read her book, and she was content.  When she was younger, I would have had to keep her engaged, tell her stories, convince her that there aren't many people ahead of us, device games, and still she would get bored and restless.  Yes, even if I had taken one of her books with us, and read to her from it.   Now, this reading by herself is apparently so interesting that she doesn't even remember that I am by her side, which leaves me free to ready my own book!

On the other hand, previously, she would look at everything around her and ask questions about it.  What do those boards say?  Why is that person in a wheelchair?  Why do they have a picture of bones here?  Tell me about these bones.  Why does this clock not have a second hand?  Why is this building built this way and not any other way?  What is the name of the flower we can see outside?

Isn't it important to know about the world around her?  Is it right that she gives up her curiosity about what is around her, for what is in a book?

And then there is another issue.  She has lately started preferring to read than go out to play in the park. Honestly, she has never been a completely outdoors person, and there have been many times over the years when she has preferred to stay at home and play with her toys, or paint, rather than go to the park.  Which is ok.   But now, she has yet another reason to want to stay at home.  And this bothers S, who is a very outdoors-loving person, and who believes  whole-heartedly in the power of fresh air and sunshine, and the importance of physical activity.  I believe in that too, but I can understand Puttachi's wish to read that book rather than go to the park, because I am like that too.

By getting lost in the world of books, are we missing out on our own world?

I've got to try and steer Puttachi to a middle ground - but is that fair on my part?  Drawing her away from something she apparently enjoys so much?  

Any thoughts on this?


Rekha said...

I am damn sure... very soon puttachi is gonna read this post and comment her thoughts as well! :)
First of all , a six-year old child, self-motivated to engage in reading itself is amazing!!! I seriously feel you should allow her to continue to read next level of books, where she starts questioning you back ;)

Chhaya said...

Hi Shruthi, I can empathize with you very well, because I believe I have the same situation with my 7 year old son. He would rather read a book than play outdoor games. As much as I exult in having passed my reading gene on, I think it's important to strike a balance, because physical activity has been proven to have wonderful benefits. It helps the kids socialize, learn sportsmanship, improve immunity, appreciate being outdoors, reduces eye strain, improves posture :)

Shruthi said...

Rekha, I want to keep her away from the blog for as long as possible :) and oh, she has already started questioning me back :(

Chhaya, absolutely. Would love to know how you handle it and strike the balance.

Chhaya said...

Hi Shruthi, I steer him towards other activities, such as watering our vegetable bed, playing with his younger brother, drawing or even his Lego sets..i do encourage him to read a lot, but I feel it should not come at the cost of his overall health :) He is pretty malleable when it comes to suggestions, so haven't had any problems so far..would love to know what works in your home!

sandhya said...

Loved this post, Shruthi. It is as if you were inside my mind while reading it. There is a decided sense of deja vu.

Yes, this has been quite a struggle in my mind, too, as you rightly deduced! :D

I would say we are doing something right if our biggest bone of contention with our kids is that they want to pick up a book all the time. But then look around you. Kids these days hardly believe in the great outdoors unless they are really the sporty type. Most of them do other, less palatable (to you and me) things like watching the TV or playing video games. Or, at A's age, I have found out, it is preening in front of the mirror and obsessing about looks, fashion, etc.

So better books than all that.

Now, I know this will be preaching to the choir, but here goes. Puttachi is just getting into this - there will be an explosion of reading, and she may want to read all the time. She might even read anything she could get her hands on, so it is the crucial stage, where you can guide her reading choices. And yes, encourage her efforts. Get her to write a few sentences about what she reads.

Even if she might prefer reading on her own now that she has mastered it, pick books slightly beyond her level, and have cosy times where you continue to read aloud to her. It is wonderful to have this tradition established in the family. I still read aloud to A, and she looks forward to those times.

At the same time, I would advocate that you be firm on her going out to play for at least an hour in the evenings. I insist on it with A. No matter how engrossing a book is, and how much she wants to just sit and complete it, I refuse to let her avoid free play time. Agreed that she gets exercise out in the fresh air at school and also learns peer interaction there, but it is more of a regulated sort of activity, isn't it? When she goes down to play in our complex, she is free to pretty much do whatever the kids play here- unstructured activity that is regulated only by her curfew time and basic safety rules.

So yes, I have had to, and everyday, face a similar dilemma, but have tried to work around it. And tried to ensure that A does not sequester herself from actual life while getting immersed in her inner world of books. A world where anything is possible.

Sorry for the mini-post! :D

Shruthi said...

Chhaya, thank you!

Sandhya, great mini-post, thank you!

KA said...

Hello Shruthi, I'm a little late with my suggestion, but enrolling her in group sport/martial arts might help.She will enjoy not only the benefit of physical exercise, but also learn about team work,individual responsibility etc etc.Having kids around her enjoy the sport might get her going too? Also, its hard to find open spaces or willing kids , in Bangalore in these days! So organised group sport might offer a way out.

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