Kiran Chug and Musings on motherhood
As a child, I’d lie in bed reading long after I’d been tucked in and told to turn the lights out. I’d spend my pocket money on books, I’d hunt out new titles and feel a rush of excitement when I discovered a new favourite character or author. Later, I studied English Literature at university, and later still, I made my own living by writing words on a page. My favourite childhood hobby essentially formed the path to my future. It carved out the way for a career based around the written word.
Without a doubt, this childhood love of reading was nurtured from a young age. – some of my earliest memories are of happy hours spent pouring over books with my parents. I was always going to do the same with my own children.
We started reading with Milin when he was a couple of months old. Discovery Farm with its cast of animals was our book of choice, and as first-time parents, we delighted in the activity of reading to our child. When Milin was just a few months old, we were amazed at how much he enjoyed us reading to him. He loved the rhythm of the words we spoke, he loved touching the books, and we all loved the closeness we gained from reading together. It was time where we all concentrated on the same thing, and enjoyed it together.
Books quickly became a part of our night time routine. Once Milin had been bathed and changed for bed, he would sit on his father’s lap and be read to. It was their time together, and their chance to share something very special. I chose moments in the day to read with Milin. Before a nap, during wind down time, or simply when he pulled the books off the shelf.
Now that Milin is 21 months old, books are still a key part of our night-time routine. Milin still reads with his father every night after his bath. I still read with him throughout the day. His bookshelves are at floor level, so he can choose whichever books he likes, whenever he wants. Tony and I love sharing our own childhood favourites with him, and Tony of course can’t wait to one day share his own book, Amazing Alphabetical Adventures, with his son.
I put Milin’s broad and varied vocabulary down to books, and I also believe they have helped him understand and contextualise the world around him. There is no doubt Milin is learning from reading, but as a family, we are all gaining so much from our family story times. They are a time when we can all stop for a little while and focus on the same thing. They are a time for bonding, a time for being together, and a time for enjoying each other’s company.
I don’t expect Milin to study literature or become a writer, but I do hope he continues to make books a part of his life. I hope he continues to read every day, to enjoy the stories on the page, and to learn from the books he chooses. I hope he expands his horizons by reading, I hope he learns more about the world through books, and I hope he comes to understand more about life through the characters he meets.
Milin is a very, very fortunate little boy. His parents love to read. We value books, and we want him to do the same. We also believe strongly in the importance of reading – not only because we cherish the family time together, but because we know how important literacy is. Milin has a writer and a teacher for parents – we both fully appreciate the role reading books played in our upbringings. Without books in our lives from a young age, our experiences of school and education would have been different.
Save the Children has launched the Change the Story campaign today, during Children’s Book Week, because it believes that in Britain, we are failing our poorest children when it comes to reading. The organisation says no child should be left behind because of how much their parents earn. But, that’s exactly what’s happening. This is what Save the Children has to say:
“A fifth of 7-year-olds from poorer families are already behind in reading. Most struggle to catch up, leading to a lifetime of lower qualifications and fewer opportunities. Seven is too young to fail. “
Save the Children is aiming to recruit 20,000 change makers over the next four years to help children reach their full potential. It is launching the Born to Read programme in which volunteers will go into schools and read to children. By 2017, the charity aims to reach 23,000 disadvantaged children.
To find out more, visit Save the Children and read about its Change the Story campaign.