Friday, November 7, 2008

The Gift of Reading

I remember learning how to read. Back then and back in Panama, kindergarten was the time when kids got used to schedules, and discipline in schools. Most children did not go to daycare, and kindergarten was not mandatory. There was no pressure on being "ahead" and "prepared" for first grade, as there is here.

I learned how to read at home. My dad would take the time to teach me how to sound out the words. Once I was able to read, a new world appeared in front of me, and I was ready to explore it.

We had one tv at our house, and it was not for the children. My parents were very strict when it came to our tv time. The tv was off limits for us, and only 2 shows were watched at home: the news and Sesame Street.

So the majority of our time was spent playing outside and when the weather did not cooperate, we spent our time reading. My parents made sure we had plenty of material to read. Back then, salesman would come to our house, offering encyclopedias. My parents bought two sets, I can see them now. The biggest set was bound in blue, and it had at least 20 volumes. It covered every imaginable topic, from history to sports. Each volume was heavy and hard to handle for a small child but dad would help us carry it so we could enjoy reading it. The other set was red, the books were smaller, and as I recall, most of the volumes talked about the different animals in the animal kingdom.

In those books, the world was within reach. I read about world history, and learned about Greece and Rome, Plato, Aristotle, Michael Angelo, and Thomas Jefferson. I read about the US, the American Revolution, and the Civil War. I learned about the European Monarchies, and the great empires that dominated the world centuries ago. It was fascinating, even as a child, to read about this far away place I now call my home.

There is no need now for encyclopedia salesmans anymore. One can find out about anyone and anything through the internet. My daughter doesn't have to read throough countless volumes to learn about the world anymore. All she needs is a computer.

Still, I want her to experience the joy of reading. I want her to read about the world, and imagine the things that are beyond her reach. I want her to enjoy reading as much as I do. I want her to be able to compete in a technological world without losing that desire to seek knowledge. I don't want her to stop thirsting for knowledge simply because it's at her fingertips, with just the stroke of a key on the computer keyboard.

Much like my parents, I am setting the ground rules. There are books, and magazines, and newspapers for her to read. There is a computer too, but for now, I want her to learn about the world and its wonder the old fashioned way.

1 comment:

From the Doghouse said...

I want to do this with my kids too. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's a struggle.