Friday, September 6, 2013

The Family Reads

I keep this one photograph close to my heart. Dan was hardly two months old. He is lying in my mother’s lap and peeping into her newspaper. The dude who sits next to her is my brother. My family was pampering me with all the postnatal care I could have in Kerala style. Now, my mother and my brother are the two members in my family who read minimal stuff like the newspaper, the recipe book, the sports page, you get the picture. But even if it is just that, they read and they read regularly. My father is a fairly good reader. He takes pride in spending his time reading a newspaper cover to cover. He also reads fiction. On a reader scale in the family, my husband ranks the highest. He reads all the time. He reads History more because that is his area. But outside that too he reads pretty much everything, including three newspapers, numerous magazines and journals. I remember myself as a kid who loved to read. I remember hiding under the cot and reading with a torchlight on. I read classics, trash, popular stuff, weird stuff, horrid stuff, tasteful stuff, everything. I majored in literature most importantly because it let me read. Even now, I read a lot. I read online. I read real books. My deepest desire right now, other than owning a pen tablet because I sketch too, is to own a kindle reader. It is only natural for me to hope that my kid will catch the habit too. I am sure he will, because in this house, sit and read is the most natural thing one can do unless you are into laughing out like hyenas. That we do a lot in this house, naturally.

Book Intimidation? 

We never bought too many fancy toys for the boy. But we did buy board books when he was a wee little fellow. Of course, he went ahead and pulled out the protective plastic films over the pages, tried to munch on the edges of the book, tried to eat bookmarks out of the books I read and so on. However, books do not intimidate the boy. He might tear pages off your book if you leave him unsupervised with it, but he is not afraid of doing so. And I am glad.

I am not kidding, people often get intimidated by books. My father told me about this cousin who came to our place and slept over in my room. Apparently he kept on complaining that he couldn’t sleep because of the books that filled the room. He even went ahead and advised my parents to take them all out and burn them. The horror!

We were looked at (rather stared at) with eyes of disbelief when some acquaintances came over and saw us handing board books to a four month old. Some of them even went ahead and advised us that books come later when they are five or six years old. We didn’t want to be rude, so we kept mum. But hello, our kid here. We will raise him whichever way we want as long as he does not grow up to become a sociopath. Even if he will for whatever reason, he better be a well read sociopath. I have dreams of taking him to a library and getting him familiarized with how to meander through a library, taking the old book smell in, checking out random books and fall in love with a strange book just because you chanced upon an interesting cover design or something. I want him to let his guards off and be as open minded as possible to knowledge and ideas. I am really hoping that he will never have a dislike to all things book.

In my defense, top twenty reasons why the kid might love to read too.

1.       We have plenty of  reading material all over the place- newspapers, magazines, books, notices, catalogues, takeout menus, recipes, you name it.
2.      We have a room that is full of books.
3.      We the parents are not boring people and we read all the time.
4.      The kid already senses that his parents read for pleasure amongst other things.
5.      We gift books.
6.      We receive books as gifts.
7.      We are super thrilled when we receive books as gifts.
8.     We are even more thrilled when we borrow books from people and they forget about the fact that we borrowed it.
9.      No, we haven’t. (Steal, that is)
10.  We enjoy going to the Sunday second hand book market in Daryaganj and spend hours in hot sun searching for books while dreaming about the awesome kulfi we can have on our way back.
11.   We love second hand book finds.
12.  We love first hand books too.
13.  We spend half of our paycheques on books (with no regrets).
14.   We believe that a library is a cool place to be.
15.   So is a bookshop.
16.  We are on first name basis with bookshop keepers.
17.   And librarians.
18.  We love good stories.
19.  All the love memorabilia between the parents are books.
20. When the kid turns one next month, he is going to get many new books! J


  1. You don't need to buy a kindle reader to enjoy kindle books. Just download a kindle app on your android phone. Google play's play book app is equally good. Thousands of titles are available for free.

  2. Your post resonances with book-love. Warm, heartfelt, amazingly crafted. good work!!

  3. Its beautiful to meet a family of book/reading aficionados...Hopefully Dan will become a voracious reader like his parents and grandfather :)

  4. you know i felt like making a baby reading this. I didn't even know writing could do that.
    thanks so much for this.
    book-lovingly yours.

  5. Thanks Shiju, Neelakshi, Puja!
    Mercury Spheres, make one. It is worth the efforts. :)

  6. Good work Prabha. Love you style and wholeheartedly support your way of raising your kid. In all probability he is going to become a book-freak like us. That's a good thing :D. The world needs them.


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