My kids have to love books. Do they have a choice?

Juliet Eneza Media, Opinion

How was life before these 2 little girls became a part of me? Believe you me, I can’t recall and neither would I ever imagine going back to that life without them. No, they aren’t perfect, they are actually far from it and not once or twice have they made me think of those animals which eat their young ones… Don’t judge me. It’s just a thought (evil grin), after I have been pushed to my limits and I want to pull off my hair and yell like Tarzan but I highly doubt if that would move them even an inch…(true story)

Amazingly, they are the reason why I would rather get to the office as early as 6 am and leave at 5 pm on the dot, because I want to see them, touch them, smell them, hear their voices, hear their laughter, listen to them playing and arguing and my favorite bit is when they ask ‘how was your day mama?’. Boy! That always melts my heart no matter how many times I hear that question. The interesting part though is I don’t think they even wait to hear my full response before am interrupted with the next question, ‘so, now what have you brought for us?’ and just like that my two second bubble bursts.

Despite all the love I have for them, what is the one thing that I can give them to empower them for the future? Books! The next question would be, aren’t they too young to know about books and the importance of reading? Well, that’s where I come in as their Mom. They trust me, believe everything I tell them and they always want to copy what mummy does.

I Love reading and this is a habit I picked up from my father when we were young. He had a home library and he kept on encouraging us to read as the TV was a not part of the menu. Therefore, reading became a part of me and up to date, I always allocate a certain amount of money every month to buy books. After my babies were born, I started dividing my budget into two (my books and their books). I haven’t much to show in terms of their library because my four-year-old has an appetite for chewing the pages although the book covers are still intact for reasons I can’t explain. (could be to make mummy believe that the books are intact or, hinting that she doesn’t like reading and that’s how she gets off the hook or could even be the covers are too hard to chew. I will never know the truth.)

So, I have taken it upon myself to instill a reading culture from the first day we get home from the hospital (new-born) Why do I need to read for them instead of singing you might ask? Simple? I simply can’t sing even to save my life and so I don’t want my babies to be traumatized that early yet. I want them to get to know their mama’s voice. A voice that soothes them and makes them know they are loved. That’s how we started our reading culture. From Bible stories books to all the kids’ books that will mold them. From these books, they have learned moral values, they have learned how to read and spell, how to love books from a very young age, encouraged sibling sharing ,how to interact with others, how to respect one another, how to treat others, the list is endless. But in all this, what I have really appreciated is how my kids’ thinking and imagination has changed.

Doing this day in day out is not easy and there are days I want to throw my hands (in the air) and say am not doing it anymore, but when I listen to my kids discuss a story I have read to them or discuss the lessons they have learnt with their nanny or the neighbor’s kids, this always reminds me why I started this journey and what was the goal behind it. Depending on what we are reading, we always read a chapter every day (at times I will be persuaded to read another chapter before we call it a day and mostly I usually give in to their persuasion) though there are times I will start reading a story and within 2 minutes they have already fallen asleep and I am left listening to their soft snores. Wait until my 4 year old calls you out at 2 am to ask why you stopped reading and what lessons were involved (did I mention that am a light sleeper?) and out goes my sleep.

Reading for the kids is not easy, their concentration is really low and they can be distracted by anything (even a housefly) and that’s why I prefer to read to them at the end of the day when all the activities and excitement has subsided. I like the evening reading because I get to spend the last bit of their day with them and this always reassures them that mummy is around. The second reason is that, the story is the last thing they hear before they sleep, chances are, that lesson will be instilled in them as that will be their last thought of the day.

What would I rather? My baby to fall asleep thinking about that scene from Ben 10 with his magic watch or think about why respect is important?

Do you know that now we have folktales and lots of African literature on our mobile learning platform? Just go to the main menu and go to stories.

About the author:

Liz Gikera is our B2B sales manager. She has 10 years experience as a corporate executive. She’s driven by maintaining existing clients while growing the customer base. She also has a witty sense of humor.