That was the sound that used to come from my grandfather’s typewriter keyboard. He would have been busy constructing test questionnaires for my two older cousins, who were both in Primary education back then. Lolo, as we called him, had become their private tutor ever since he retired from being a university professor.
That sound was my joy – my “go” signal: It meant I could sneak freely into his mini-library just opposite his office, which was technically beside his bed. There were six tall wooden shelves, in total, and all were filled with books arranged according to size and colour.
His mini-library was my wonderland. From the age of 4, I could “travel” half the world away without needing any visas or a passport, and “attend” historical events without any special invitations.
Today, being a busy, full-time mom hasn’t lessened my passion for reading – though my reading material has changed. I spend most of my free time on blogs, reviews, magazines and e-magazines. Since my motherhood journey started, I’ve also added self-help books to my reading list. The Chill Mom, about how to go from an anxious expectant mother to a relaxed, confident new parent, has been especially helpful.
My husband, Arthur, shares my belief that reading is an important tool in learning. Here are some of the ways we engage our 5-year-old Ar Xuel in “early” reading. (While we started these steps with him when he was 3, remember, every child is different, and acquires knowledge at his or her own pace.)
As much as possible, we let our child see us read. In addition, every time we go to a restaurant, we read aloud the menu while pointing the words out to him. Many menus come with pictures, which attract his attention.
Experts recommend alphabet, picture, song and rhyming books for early readers. When our son showed interest, we knew he was “ready”. At the library, we let him browse picture books of fire trucks, police cars and ambulances, as we know he loves vehicles – especially ones with sirens!
I am grateful that Singapore’s National Library has a free programme for young children called “Read! Singapore”, which aims to nurture lifelong learning with activities like story-telling, dramatisation and much more. Visit the GoLibrary website for the latest schedule.
“Time to sleep,” I say. “No! It’s bedtime story!” our son cries, knowing that Mommy and Daddy will read him a story or two before we tuck in for the night. A Very Big Storm by Emily Lim is his current favourite bedtime book, and we read it two to three times a week. Although my husband and I have memorised the characters and lines in the book, we make sure to read it like it’s the first time, every time.
We visit the library each week, and spend at least 30 minutes to an hour there, letting our kiddo return his borrowed books through the Book Drop and choose his next reading materials, before he scans out his books excitedly, using the NLB Mobile app.
For us, reading together is fun and strengthens our family bonds – just like it did with my Lolo back in the Philippines so long ago.
From The Finder Kids (Vol. 26), March 2019
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