Sometime ago echomyst
had asked in my response to one of her posts, what books I had grown up with that have left an impression on me. As we are looking around for books that a toddler would be interested in, there are so many books that D
enjoys. At the same time, I have also been looking for books in Telugu, my mother tongue for her to glance through and grow up with. When I asked my parents/family for some ideas they just drew a blank. D
now can identify alphabets in the English language. I want her to also pick up the Telugu alphabets and I still am not able to find in book format (there are so many website for it, but we limit computer usage - actually she gets no time at the computer!!) for her to do so.
They mostly laughed when they caught me reading to D
from when she was 2-3 months (well, then it was just reading whatever I wanted to read that I would read aloud). And when she was 5-6 months old, I started bringing books home, since that's what we as good parents are encouraged to do by so many voices of authority. It's to help create an interest in reading, to help develop vocabulary. There's one study after another showing such to be the case.
It made me look into how my interest in reading developed. We never attended story times at the library. In fact, we didn't even know what a library was. I wonder if there even was one where we grew up. We lived on the campus of my dad's institute. The library there was for big people who understood agricultural science. So, the image of library growing up was also a far-off place that we don't go to!
But I grew up surrounded in books - none of which I could "read". But I constantly saw my dad reading 3-4 books at a time. I saw my mom reading too and writing poetry, essays as a hobby. It was when I was 4-5 years old when there were books I could read!
Most of the stories we were told that taught us lessons in life came out of the three epic stories - the Mahabharata
, the Ramayana
, and mostly the Bhagavat Gita
and the many historic figures such as Jhansi ki Rani
(my favorite heroine growing up), Mahatma Gandhi, King Ashoka, etc. And they were often were told orally by grandparents and granduncles/aunts! This was wonderful when you still lived in extended families. However, by our generations, we were living more in nuclear families and so often would only hear stories during our summer vacations when we would visit our grandparents or they would come visit us!
So, for us, the Amar Chitra Katha
was the best thing that could happen to any young Indian kid in those days! I have yet to meet any Indian my age who doesn't oohhh--ahhhh over their series! Just writing this is getting me all excited! OMGEXCITED! I don't even know how to pick a favorite!!
Amar Chitra Katha took the many stories from the three epics and made it into comics and stories that were kid-friendly! We would eagerly wait for every copy that arrived to read from page one to the end and reread them with such great interest! I think though out of all I love Tenali Rama
stories - he was such a witty character! His poems were such fun!
The other books was the Panchatantra
- that taught various life lessons! My paternal grandmother though was the best storyteller of this!
And of course, our life was not complete without the world of Mandrake the magician
and other comics - which we read for fun!N
and I have begun collecting the above books for D
. The only thing is they are all in English! I didn't realize till recently that while we were living in India, my parents brought me up in an English household! It wasn't till we left India and moved to Italy that our household language switched to Telugu! Funny, huh?! I think now they are coming up with books in Telugu and various Indian languages.
It wasn't until I was 12 and was in Rome, that I discovered the wonderful world of libraries! I pretty much lived in it and submerged myself into the books of Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew!! I remember my English lit teacher got me to read Little Women and I abhorred the whole "girly" books I had labelled them as!!
What a contrasting life D
is living in. She has been to the library since she was 3 months old. She is surrounded with books with stuff she can relate to! No matter what the studies say, I believe the best way to get children interested in books is to model the behavior. For me reading was not a hobby, it was part of my daily life like brushing teeth and combing hair. It was a normal thing to do. I hope that's one thing in the world of books I could pass on to little D