A few months ago I had the good fortune of being inducted into a Book Club and I am so glad that Ramana invited me into its haloed portals.
It is a motley group of writers, thinkers, doctors, businessmen, an ex-naval officer, journalists, coming together mainly for the love of reading and to take the legacy forward. Books are best friends and will never leave your side. “Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world,” said Voltaire. I don’t dance much but then I can make up for that by reading, can’t I?
It is summer vacation and we wanted to rope in the kiddos too. Kids are like monkeys isn’t it? They imitate what their parents do. If the parents are into reading then the child too usually follows suit. We wanted to have a book reading session for them and at Dr. Rajanikanth’s and Yujana decided to play the gracious hosts. There were five kids and double the number of adults to cheer them.
Books have some magic in them and the stories conjure live images. Reading is an act of reflection while reading we merge ourselves in the book. The books we read become a part of us and we animate the characters, conjuring up vivid images while playing the role of the protagonist. Books possess us this way and fill us with thoughts and observations. Our mind is in constant action during this time and it’s like healthy fodder to a starving mind. Compare it to today’s digital era of the television or the iPads which throw readymade images at you. These images are the vision of the director and not what you imagine. Naturally here your mind is lazing and not working rendering you useless. Yes you are glued and watching but your mind isn’t ticking; no wonder they call it the idiot box!When I read books in childhood, I would envision myself to be Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty or even Red Riding Hood. This would give wings to my imagination and I lived my dreams through reading.
Those who argue against reading might say that it is difficult to read a book when The Big Bang Theory or Facebook beckons. If the internet has been taking up most of your time you need to pry yourself away to create reading time. I am sure it would be worth it; the kids too will follow suit.
The book reading session was a great success and my faith is restored in the fact that kids these days can read too and are not only capable of moving their fingers on a remote or a keyboard.
Tanvee, daughter of Dr. Gowtham Meher and Dr. Sreedevi, was the first to read. I was amazed by her confidence and intonation. She narrated, (yes narrated as she barely had to read) the genesis of the epic Mahabharatha, and we all listened spellbound. Tanvee narrated how Dritharashtra and Pandu were born, to be precise.
Next to read was Agastya, son of Dr.Vishal and Dr.Swapna. Agastya read a short story on the futility of material wealth. He read with aplomb not faltering anywhere.
Little Havishya was next and youngest among the readers. She was the daughter of our genial hosts. Havishya read out a story about the tailor and the giant and she was a composed little lady and read with ease.
The audience was all ears throughout and this did give the kids a real fillip to read unabashedly. Last but not the least was Mishti, who read a story about animals and it had a moral behind it. Mishti was cool as a cucumber and it shows that she as well as the other kids have been read to at home by their parents.
Ultimately, a child’s ability to understand what he is reading boils down to his background knowledge. Very young children, who are given opportunities to learn, think, and discuss new zones of knowledge will gain a lot more from reading. With lucidity comes the craving to read more and to read frequently, ensuring that reading becomes a habit.
There was a break for some much-needed refreshment and the table was piled with food; Fresh sugarcane juice was sipped first and then there were soft feather light muffins made by Swapna, exotic chocolates by Swati, corn cutlets corn rolls cakes sweets by the hostess Yujana, ice creams, graciously brought by Venu. A lavish spread that was for a high tea and we all did justice to it by eating heartily. For the first time, I forgot to take pictures of the food!!
I like to keep kids occupied and challenged with word games. I had brought three games for them.I asked them to settle down with a pen and when I took out papers they looked at me apprehensively as if I was going to give them a test. The first game was filling in the blanks with words ending in ICE. The kids took their time but all of them finished. The younger ones found it a wee bit difficult and took parental help.
To make them feel at ease, I gave them a joining the dots game which they enjoyed and finished really fast. I still love joining the dots to make a picture. Do you?
The third game was finding the Anagrams with clues. An anagram is a word or phrase that is made by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase like LEAK/LAKE. If kids are given such games to play, they can enhance their vocabulary and their minds stay more active due to the challenges of the games.
Yesterday when I went to Kondapally, I picked up a few dainty birds and vintage telephone toys as prizes for the kids, hoping that they will cherish them like I did my Kondapally toys. The kids were happy with them and quickly pulled them out from the pretty palm leaf baskets they were packed in.
It was a very rewarding evening, well spent in the company of like-minded friends and kids.Here is wishing Book Club, many more such sessions and inspire the next generation to keep on reading. A book is like a dream that you hold in your hand and when you read it the dream comes true! Don’t forget to read and do pass on Book Reading habit to your kids.