The love for reading

A couple of Saturdays ago, we attended the parent-teacher meeting at the day care, where we met with two of Buddy’s teachers to discuss his progress. Typical of me, I wanted to prepare a list of questions for the teachers. Well I actually only had a couple but I had to put them down in case I forgot.

During the meeting, I whipped out my phone and started to rattle the questions: “what specific interests/activities does he display in school?…” My husband joked, “do you want to table a list of parliamentary questions and have the teachers submit written answers?” He also remarked to me later that I acted like a tiger mom. I was insulted, yes I think this term has a negative connotation. But I’ve to admit that my expectations of Alex may have been a little unrealistic.

I think Buddy was a year old when I bought his first book. Before that I tried to read him the story apps on the ipad, like “Dr Suess’ ABC “,  or played the musical stories from Pink Fong to him.
Over the next several months, I got more books for Buddy, lift-the-flap books, touch and feel books, and a counting book. But he didn’t have the patience for me to read to him,  and instead wanted to turn the page or lift the flap before I finished. Though strangely, the infant care teachers told us he loved to read and be read to.

Until recently we didn’t develop a reading schedule for Buddy. Though my husband felt we should read to him everyday, we didn’t, and any reading was done on an adhoc basis.  But we showed him flash cards on alphabets, first words, numbers and shapes/colors regularly. Buddy picked up the alphabets and words fairly quickly; he can recite 1 to 10 rather well but still can’t count. And I wondered when he would pick up spelling, or able to pronounce a word when he sees one.

I told the teachers of Buddy’s inability to count, and they assured me that it is still early for him. I thought Buddy’s knowledge of numbers is lacking and told my husband we had to teach him at least up to 20. But my husband disagrees; to him knowing numbers from one to a hundred or even a million is not important. Buddy knows one to ten, the rest is just an extension. What matters to my husband is that Buddy understands the concept of numbers. In fact my husband is rather dismissive of memorization, “even Mr Ed (the horse) can count”, and prides analysis and critical thinking above all. “Sure there are some stuff that require memorizing, like multiplication table, but as much as possible, he should go by first principle.”

Anyway a few weeks ago, we went to pick up Buddy, and one of his teachers told me she had borrowed some books on his behalf from the mobile library. In fact she had applied for a library card for him. She got him six books, two in Chinese and four in English. When we were home, I read to Buddy and he was very enthusiastic.

Since then, we have been to the library a few times to get more books for Buddy, though my husband assured me that it was alright to repeat them. The books started the bedtime story routine. Buddy’s appetite for them is voracious. I have to read him three books a night, and I make sure one is in Chinese. He sometimes try to turn the page before I finish, but mostly he will repeat some of the words I told him or point out objects he recognizes.

Even since we stepped into the library (after an absence of donkey years), We realize that it is really unnecessary for us to buy any books for Buddy. The amount of resources in the library is amazing! No one can match the sheer numbers and types of books available, and best of all, they are free (for basic membership). Right now, till the end of July, the library is having a reading promotion and each member can borrow up to 16 items (up from the usual six for basic member). So we took advantage of that and got hell of a lot of books for Buddy. That will save us frequent trips to the library. And when the promo ends, I will combine mine with Buddy’s card.

I do encourage parents to take their kids to the library, and try to make bedtime story a habit for the young kids. It’s also a very good bonding session with the child. Buddy will cuddle up to me when I read to him. Many times, he enjoys the reading and binding session so much that he would ask, “more, more!”.

His love for books and reading was most apparent last night. I thought he was being naughty when he wanted to ride on the micro scooter instead of going for his bath. I told him “no bath, no books!”, but he refused to comply. It was getting late and bed time, which follows bath time, got pushed back. My husband talked to him that if he took his bath he would get books, and eventually he agreed. But I felt he should be punished for the delay and wanted to put him in his cot straight after bath. He wailed, and my husband persuaded me to relent since he had complied, and we didn’t have to drag him into the bathroom. So I read him one Chinese book. He wanted the book with him when he slept.

Later, my husband told me that we could withhold toys, scooter, and ipad from Buddy, but we should never withhold books. In fact we should thank our lucky stars that he has a love for books. He was able to reason with Buddy when given time, and so I should cut our son some slack. Yes I admit I was harsh on Buddy, and was being petulant myself when he refused to say “sorry, mama” to me, though he tried to make amend in his own way by caressing me. (That’s what he does when he realizes he has upset us.) I do realize I should be more mindful that he is only 2, and I should be more patient with him. well I am learning and hopefully able to handle Buddy better going forward.

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