I believe I was born a visual arts person. I never liked reading books. I never underwent a “Nancy Drew” stage.
Maybe because I had a wrong perception that people who liked books are introverts. And maybe I never saw my parents loving books, and thought reading was not necessary for success. I think I was “pushed” to reading by need.
My first journey to reading –
In 1993, I started this new life in New York. I entered as a 10th grader, where I felt alien amidst an American world. I felt uneasy with new subjects and taking both Math 1 and Math 2. The only place I felt at ease was the library.
In a few months, I began to love the US life and all its possibilities. I loved the teaching method. I loved how meritocratic everything was. I loved the teachers. After months of remedial classes, I was awarded, “Outstanding in Math”. My teachers for both Global Studies and Biology recommended me to take AP classes and clock in community service hours.
The closest community service was the city library. I bike there twice a week to work as an encoder. That gave me a lot of time to go through books and found my interest in non-fiction. I still keep my library card from New City Library.
In 1999, I worked as an intern at Washington D.C. under Sen. Lugar. It was another lonesome but enriching experience that allowed me a lot of “alone” walks. I vividly remember walking by a Barnes & Noble and saw “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” on the window. I stopped, went in, read it, and remember feeling, “Wow, that was easy and refreshing.”
I realised how empowering books could be. Since then, when I had any issues at home or at work, I turned to reading. And so, this quest for answers became habitual. Whenever I visit the US, I make it a point to have a Barnes & Noble day. Whenever I am in the airport, I spend a lot of time in Relay or Hudson News.
5th Avenue Barnes & Noble window from my recent trip to New York City
Today, I customise “loving to read” to my kids. How?
“Comfort” Reading – I read this in a parenting book. Try to have a ritual every morning and night to read to your baby. Position your baby either near your armpit or your nape, where your body scent is strong. This is gives a comfort bonding to our child.
Physical Surrounding – I surround my kids with books, flash cards and puzzles. When they come to our room, they see all our books as well. My daughter’s wish at 9 is to have one big secret room of books in our house where she can go to relax.
Happy Routines – Since my children were a few months old, I brought them to the bookstore every chance that I got. I would pick a book, find a corner and read to them. When they got older, they picked the books and I would read to them
Throw in Mix Media to Match Interests – When both my kids were turning 2, I read them this DK (Dorling Kindersley) book of dinosaurs and supplemented this with a documentary video of the same topic. When my son was 4, he started to like Marvel Avengers. He would ask me to buy toys and I augmented this with DK books that expounded the stories of his heroes. He was fascinated knowing more information about Spiderman, Ironman plus knowing additional characters; not yet produced in toys, like Hawk-Eye and Antman.
Once a month, I plan to also share books I recommend for certain genres, books that my daughter, who is 9, likes to read.
Parenting: HOW TO HAVE A SMARTER BABY by Dr. Susan Ludinton-Hoe
This was my bible from my maternity leave until my kids were 6 months. I followed the infant exercises and saw the positive effects of sensory exercises for my kids. This also taught me how to properly make and invest in toys that are safe, multi-age and practical. I made most of my kids’ sensory materials from basic art and home materials so had more budget for good quality wooden toys for my kids.
Self Help: THE ILLUSTRATED DISCOVERY JOURNAL by Sarah Ban Breathnack
This book really allowed me to do self-visioning for myself. I slowly did this from 2001-2003. Today is 2016 and I still refer to this book at least once a year.
Business: STRENGTH FINDER 2.0 by Tom Rath
This book allowed me to change my view in dealing with people. This comes with a code that allows you to take an online test of your own strengths and weaknesses.
Some of my daughter’s favourite books:
Look Who’s Talking! On the Farm by Danny Tepper
This was the exact book I read to my kids till they were 3 months old. It is a good rhyme with flap book that teaches animal sounds and encourage participation. My daughter recently arranged her books in her room. I was amazed that she actually displayed this like a picture frame.
WONDER by R.J. Palacio
My daughter said she likes this book because it taught her how you can surpass hurdles even when you have physical setbacks.
THE ENGLISH ROSES by Madonna
My daughter currently loves pop music like Katy Perry. I wanted her to see how multi-dimensional people can be. When I showed her this book, she was a bit skeptical that a singer can actually write. After reading it, she actually chose it as one of her favourites.