“Mom, tell me a stowee,” my daughter R says as we lay together in bed. Her brother has just turned off the lights in our room . My two-year old has her pink stuffed toy ELLIE in a tight embrace as she waits for my impromptu tale. This night I tell her about Goldilocks and the Three Bears. She giggles in the dark as I use different voices for Papa bear, Mama bear and Baby Bear. She quickly learns the too hot- too cold-just right pattern for the porridge eating part of the story and the too hard- too soft- just right sequence for the chair and bed escapades of Goldilocks. At the end of the story, R says “the m” (thee-em), instead of “the end.” It’s my turn to grin in the dark. I kiss her good night as she begs for another story. “I’ll tell you another one tomorrow, sweetie. “ She falls asleep soon enough.
Several days later the kids and I went to the bookstore because my son M wanted to check out the latest K-Zone magazine. “Mom, where is Goldilocks?” asks R as her eyes wondered from one book to another. We found the book and she immediately went through the pages. “Too hot! Too cold! Juuussst right!” recited R as she pointed at the pictures. Her brother M was impressed.
My experience with M ten years ago was very different . He was a late talker, so I would read to him as he eagerly took in the images from the books we perused. Every trip to the mall included a stay in the bookstore. Even when we travelled, we spent more time in the bookstore than in any Toys R Us outlet. By the time M learned how to speak, he could also read.
My son’s first books included “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle and the Caldecott Medal winning “Where the Wild Things Are “ by Maurice Sendak, For the talent show in kindergarten, then 4-year old M recited the lines from “There was an Old Woman who Swallowed a Fly” in front of his class. Now at ten, he has read The Little Prince, The One and Only Ivan and a myriad of Marvel-based books.
Carle masterfully illustrated his story . This colorful book is a visual delight to young readers.
It’s very important to encourage your child to appreciate books at an early age. It doesn’t matter if he/she only looks at the pictures. That is a good starting point because good visuals stimulate the brain. I truly believe that there is no better toy for a child than a good book.Tell your children stories at night, during activity time or even when you’re stuck in traffic. Buy books and put them in a shelf where it can be accessed easily. There is no limit to a child’s imagination! In fact, it’s the cheapest way to go on any kind of adventure!
Reading also increases the vocabulary and the spelling ability of your child. I do recommend however that you also offer Tagalog books early on. In a bilingual society , this will be very helpful. I wish I had done this with M before so that he could be fluent in the vernacular as well as he is with the English language. And please lessen television viewing or the use of any hand held equipment. It may keep your child quiet for some time but the end result of this no-no practice is disastrous.
So the next time,your child asks you to buy a toy, try bringing him/her to the bookstore. Invest in reading materials rather than in gadgets. Now, that’s a challenge for all of us .