Chacha Chaudhary and the reluctant reader

(This the third in the series on Books and Reading. The first two parts can be read here and here)

What would you call a house with a lavishly appointed living room — spic and span with not a speck of dust on any surface, excellent colour coordinated furnishing, beautiful artifacts and wall décor, an impressive home theatre system…and….not a single piece of reading material, not even a newspaper anywhere in sight?

I would call such a house a museum. Oh how I would love to mess up that room with some books scattered all over the place to give it the feel of a home!

Please allow me to deviate a little here.

When the boys were growing up, we only had a 12” B/W TV. And that was the time when colour TVs came into the homes of neighbours and friends of the boys with alarming regularity. We were in no mood to spend all that money to buy one and so we continued with the tiny set, much to the chagrin of the boys. And then one day there was this salesman at the door selling World Book Encyclopedia at Rs.19, 000 per set. I didn’t think twice before buying a set on easy instalments. I lovingly covered the volumes with cellophane sheets before allowing anyone to even touch them! It occupied pride of place in our living room. The entire housing society called me crazy for spending such a huge amount on books, but I was one happy crazy woman and the kids were happy too since they could get their school projects done sitting at home and even offer their friends the reference facility. After all, they could watch their programmes on the small TV just as well as on a colour TV, couldn’t they?

And I am also the kind of nut who chooses her dentist based on the reading material in the clinic 🙂

Coming back to the post, there are parents and parents and children and children. Let us look at some, me and mine included.

I was unlucky to visit the museum…er…house of an acquaintance during her favourite TV serial. ‘Please give me ten minutes. I missed the last episode and it is at a critical point,’ —  all told without taking her eyes off the screen and with a touch of impatience. I sighed and looked around for something to read and then sighed some more. I don’t need to tell you why.

When the serial got over, she told her young daughter, who had been watching the serial along with her, to go and study as she had some work with aunty (me), before turning to me with a bright (plastic) smile. The girl ignored the admonition and continued watching after quietly changing the channel to Nick Jr.

Well, so much for the serial junkies.

And then there are those who force their children to read books chosen haphazardly or which are unsuitable for their ages as Seeta had pointed out in her comment on the previous post. It wouldn’t hurt such parents to consult someone who can advise them on the kind of books to get for their children. And since they weren’t able to read in their childhood, they could catch up with their own reading now. Better late than never, right? Today the choices in children’s books are mindboggling. There are even cloth books, which can be washed when soiled. Such books can double up as toys if the little one is not too keen on ‘reading’.

Ok, so you don’t watch TV, are a reader and you have loads of children’s books lying around the house and you tell them stories too. And yet they don’t want to read. Sounds frustrating? You bet it is. I have been there.

When the elder one was hardly a year old, he would pore over the colourful picture books for hours. I used to carry books and old magazines on our train journeys to keep him engaged. He had begun reading by himself when he started school. So I was lulled into complacency thinking that the younger one – who was six years his junior – would follow in his brother’s footsteps. I have heard that siblings sometimes are so different from each other that they could be from different families. So it was with my own. He was as reluctant as his elder brother was an avid reader. He loved stories no doubt, but was happy to listen to them. I tempted him with the most colourful picture books but beyond a cursory look at them, he left them severely alone.

However, I was persistent if nothing and tried every trick in the book.

I took them to the wonderful B.C.Roy Children’s library in Delhi where in those days children could spend the whole day browsing and reading. While the elder one spent ecstatic hours reading all the books he could, the younger one — then five — was content playing with the toys in the play area of the library or chatting with the librarian, the soft-spoken, grandmotherly Ms.Kamaljit Kaur. When I fretted, she smiled.  ‘Don’t worry. He will begin reading soon,’ she gently told me. I nodded doubtfully as I sadly lacked the insight she had from years of observing children.

He was all of seven when he picked up a book on his own. It was a picture book and I was in the seventh heaven! ‘Now, it is just a matter of time before he begins reading books fit for his age,’ I exulted to myself. But my joy was short-lived as he soon lost interest.

So where is Chacha Chaudhary in all this, you ask? I am coming to that.

They say that sometimes a ray of light comes from an unexpected source. In my case, it came from a little girl in our housing society. A great fan of Chacha Chaudhary comics, she lent her friend a few and got him hooked! What an experienced librarian, a frantic mother and dozens of children reading books in our living room couldn’t do, was accomplished by a young girl, not much older than him.

I would have been very happy had he read the comics in the original Hindi. Now, Pran is a great comic story writer and his characterization of Chacha Chaudhary and Sabu are any child’s delight, but the English translation leaves much to be desired. I protested in vain for him to read other comics, the Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle, Spiderman…but to no avail. Chacha was sneaked into the house and promptly lapped up. I was sorely tempted many a time to banish them from the house, but the incident from several years ago was still haunting me and so I stopped myself. (What incident? Well, you have to wait for that one.)

The long and short of it is that he had started reading and I am happy to say that he has not stopped since.

Moral of the story: Make every effort to turn your children into readers, starting with telling them stories and reading books to them. But don’t lose heart if they don’t instantly pick up a book and become avid readers. It might be a gradual process or there might come a miraculous moment to make them turn to books. But no matter what, please don’t use TV as a substitute for good old books and stories despite the many dada-dadi stories that are aired, despite the cartoon characters who take hold of their little minds, despite the distraction factor that often makes it a surrogate nanny. And most of all, don’t fret it they don’t read story books. As long as they interested in reading, it is fine. Let them choose the genre as they grow older. I know of kids who like to read only sports related books or books on general knowledge or autobiographies.

And oh, before I forget, let me thank that little girl who is now a lovely young mom, and Chacha Chaudhary. Are you reading this, Little Girl?

Do you know someone who turned into a happy reader from being a reluctant one? What made them change?

…more

Homepage image courtesy: http://www.en.wikipedia.org

67 comments

  1. When we read comics or try to understand superheroes, particularly as children, we develop our emotions, reading ability, and morals. Just as we idolise celebrities, we idolise superheroes. Furthermore, based on theories of social psychology, comics likely impact our levels of aggression, prosocial behaviour, leadership ability and attitudes.

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    1. Very true, Sanjana. How many kids have tried to fly by wearing a cape like one of the superheroes, for instance? I had only dealt with the role of comics in making readers out of children who are reluctant to pick up a book. Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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  2. […] Chacha Chaudhary and the reluctant reader […]

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  3. I Come from a family of bookworms, Zephyr, my grandfather apparently bought a book the first time he came to see me… That was when I was just a day old!!!!! But we faced a different problem. Of too many books and no space to keep them. Our flat in Mumbai was so small that we had no space for books, so we had given away most , retaining only some for sentimental reasons. We therefore relied on libraries and friends for books, which is probably why my reading was so scattered, vast, and sometimes age inappropriate 🙂 but still the house always seemed to be full of books! The only reason i learnt cycling was so i could go to more libraries!!!! Even now, I buy more books for samhith than for myself, and still happily borrow books from everyone I know! Hubby isn’t a bookworm, but he devours the newspapers and magazines, and marks out articles for us to read! While I will probably always fret that Samhith isn’t as much of a bookworm as I am, I am happy he is a reader, and that our efforts have worked so far!

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  4. […] (The first three parts of this series on Books and Reading can be read at  I, II and III) […]

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  5. This post reminded me of those days when I used to read Chacha choudary and many more hindi comics. But I was not a reluctant reader. I have always loved books for some reason. Even though we had cable TV from the day it came into existence, I was more attracted to books. Not that I do not watch TV. I do both.

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    1. WP has eaten even my comment reply! I remember replying this comment several days back but today I find it has vanished!

      So many children have become readers from being readers of the Hindi children’s magazines and comics. What I meant to say was that even reluctant readers tend to pick up books lured by comics like Chacha Chaudhary. And a committed reader does not get addicted to the TV but the converse is not true. Thank you for the comment, Adada Kedavra.

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      1. I agree with you Zephyr. My husband is a reluctant reader too. Maybe I should try to make him read some comics.

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        1. Good idea 🙂

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  6. Thanks for posting this Amma! It’s always a pleasure to read about Vinni’s childhood 🙂

    While growing up, I used to read Champak. It was rare to find latest issues in my town and the only place we could buy magazines was at the railway station. I used to wait for someone to travel so I could accompany a family member to the railway station and lay my hands on the latest issues. And while I waited for the next issue, I used to ‘revise’ the old ones.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Swati 🙂 You are right. The latest issues of comics and magazines were usually only available at the station book stalls and we used to buy them there too — before starting on a journey. LOL at your ‘revising’ the old issues 😀

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  7. My older son only read comic books and was not interested in chapter books in any form! I let him read the comics, thinking at least he’s reading! Last year, I tried Enid Blyton; I offered to read it aloud to him and read every night before bed until my throat was sore! He was hooked; he never knew before how exciting it could be! Now, he’s read the entire Harry Potter series by himself a couple of times over!! I’m in seventh heaven!

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    1. Very wise of you to let him read what he wants. And since he has discovered the joys of reading by himself, he will be fine and devour more books than you can get him 🙂

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  8. Thank you thank you and more thank you..and you know why I am thanking you right?? I only pray and hope the brat turns out to be like your younger one and really picks up the habit of reading *fingers crossed*

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    1. Ha ha. Don’t worry. She will. I know she is too fond of books to not begin reading.

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  9. Oh Lord!
    Here my problem was that my son would not eat and sleep on time as he was busy reading a book.
    Thankfully I never had to introduce him to books.
    Even today he keeps buying books and then dumps on me saying he will read later. Not because he stopped liking books, but got busy with job and he gets more books than he can read.

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    1. The older one was very much like Siddharth. But once he started reading, Vinni read so much and such serious stuff even when he was in 8th std and today he has books everywhere in his house. It is my favourite library. Enjoy all the books he is buying as I do 🙂

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  10. reading books and developing that habit is very important

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    1. Very true, sm. Thank you for reading.

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  11. G.N. BALAKRISHNAN. · · Reply

    Right from my school days, I developed a taste for reading books, as unlike most of my few friends, I was not interested in sports . Those were the days when Hercule poi rot, Perry Mason Sexton Blake were much sought after. There was a sudden, but seamless transformation, when I entered the portals of Vivekananda College, from silly,but interesting fiction to more serious reading. I used to pore over books in English Literature , especially the serious type, though, I did not mind indulging in classics off and on. One of my favourite authors was P.G. WODEHOUSE, and I used to forget myself in reading almost all his books, which I bought and preserved, inducing my children,also, who fell into the trap. But what do I see now? My grand children starred reading Enid Blyton and graduated to HARRY POTTER, which has become almost a craze. I cannot comment on this, as somehow, I could not bring myself to flip even a couple of pages of that book. Perhaps, as you rightly said, this may be the stepping stone to further voyages of discovery for them, which evolution will automatically take over to mould their tastes. There is no point in thrusting our preferences, especially on the present generation of students, as they seem to be more mature and capable of taking their own decisions, inspite of the distracting claimants like TV Serials, movies, sports etc .

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    1. Your observations about this generation of children is bang on, GNB sir. They indeed know their minds and can sift the chaff out of the wheat better than the earlier generations. As for reading Enid Blyton and Harry Potter, I loved the former while in high school and the latter when I was in my 40s 🙂 And the latter had me in its thrall and I love the series because J.K.Rowling brought back magic into the life of a generation of cynical kids. Of course the movies with their spectacular special effects caught hold of their fancy more than the books. I am also a fan of PGW but I have of late become a reader of non-fiction. The only fiction I read is children’s fiction.

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  12. reading books is a great effort.We ensured ,we read a book to our kids feom the age of two.
    It worked..i can see how they grew up

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    1. That is one of the best rituals that parents can create for children. And it always pays.

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  13. Ah! Reminds me of my reading and Gautam’s reluctance to read books. I would read all the Amar Chitra Kathas I could get and Gautam is not an avid reader, mostly reluctant or forced into picking one up so this really reminded me of that.

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    1. Hey, great to see you here, Sid! I am glad you could connect with the post and see the similarities between my sons and you both. Gautam like Vinni will become a great reader too one day soon. But he might not read the same kind of books you do. Hope you are enjoying the books I had sent yuo 🙂

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      1. Hi Zephyr,
        Thanks for the books! And thanks for this post 🙂
        It gives me hope that Gautam will become a voracious reader some day.
        I don’t have the privilege of keeping my TV spartan and cut-off the mega pack of tata sky. So, only a miracle can divert his attention to books when TV has captured all his imagination.

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        1. Nice to see you here, Gurdev. It was a pleasure sending those books to the kids. When the house is full of books and the other members read them, the kids will follow suit. Sometimes I suspect that the younger ones are a little intimidated by the elder ones whom they hero worship and feel that they might not measure up to their standards. So they do it differently. There is more in this series. Hope you will read them too 🙂

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  14. well I am a example .. although as i have said earlier i got to hear a lot of stories from grandparents and everyone .. I was not a good reader i hated it .. no wonder the state of my education was the way it was .. never studied course book either 🙂

    but then my grand-dad was a good reader he use to read a lot , till he had his eyesight and after that he would make me read the news papers or some book to him .. and that ws the turning point i guess in me .. because i started to read books and offcourse ..
    although not a avid reader i did have comic books chacha chaudhary and sabu.. who can forget them 🙂

    although sadly i dont get enough time now to read.. even when i want to ..

    but today with the era or internet-video games-play stations i see more and more kids reading less.. i myself and guilty if by chance i come home early from a shift instead of picking a book (i have hundreds that need reading in the loft) .. I switch on the ps3 to kill some zombies to refresh myself .. or to get the agression of the day out ..

    maybe i should instead pick up a book and READ ….

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    1. If you had read and enjoyed books even if you had not been a voracious one, the love of books will come back — maybe when you are ready to retire and relax and don’t need playstations to work out your tensions. The L&M has again taken to reading books and he loves reading in Hindi more than English 🙂

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  15. Ha ha! I’m so happy you started this series! As they say- “I’m lovin’ it!”

    Glad that your younger one finally got hooked on reading! 🙂

    When my kids were growing up, our home was quite small. Less storage space meant we had books on the desk, under the desk, in boxes under the bed, and on overhead shelves. Like you have written, we too had just a small B & W TV. And our kids grew up thinking this was normal. 🙂

    BTW, I’m not really a great fan of comics. My son used to be though!

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    1. Great to know that you are ‘lovin’ it’ Manju 🙂 Your house must have been heaven overflowing with books. We had our priorities in life right, didn’t we? I mean about crowding the house with books and watching TV on a tiny B/W set? I still love comics, but not the superhero kinds that flood the market. Give me Amar Chitra Katha and I am happy, any day.

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  16. This post is a good read. I thought I was reading about my son. My elder son was like yours. He started reading Perry Mason when we went to my mama’s place in his 4th std. holidays, because he didn’t have anything else to do! My mother’s side were all avid readers. My husband reads a lot. Our house was and is full of books, in shelves , centre tables, corner tables, etc. Even after TV age, my children read books…now in note book!

    Does the ‘little girl’ now, a mom, comment here? She should be happy to read about herself here!

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    1. Oh how I would love to come and feel at home in your home! Give me a book and a cup of coffee and I am in heaven. Children pick up anything available to read and Perry Mason seems to have been a favourite to a lot many people including me 🙂

      The little girl Deepta has commented on the FB link of the post on my profile. She loved it!

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  17. Lovely post Zephyr !
    I agree that Chacha Chaudhary comics’ English vertions were atrocious ! Their literal translation of Hindi phrases into English was hilarious to say the least !:)

    My boys too are quite similar to yours Zephyr… My first born was into reading books by the age of three. In his kindergarten he was consistently topping their “Readers’ Hall of Fame” chart by leading the rest of the class by a mile, month after month ! He would tick loads of books in the Book Club form with list of books the children could buy which his dad always happy to buy ! His choice of books to was varied…from space journeys to books of Dianosaurs to history of the countries…he showed great interest in titles/topics of books that might be boring to most kids ! That used to amaze me that a 5 year old might find such books interesting !
    My second born did not start as early as 3 years…but once he did, he ended reading all the books his brother was reading… Their best outings were going to book exhibitions and book stores with their dad….
    Happy reading…

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    1. I guess it is ghar ghar ki kahani especially with two boys 🙂 I used to feel a little timid to try anything that my elder sister did well, perhaps afraid to be shown up as less accomplished than her. Maybe this psychology worked for reading too? You are right, the younger ones start late, but they soon catch up and even overtake their elder brothers in reading. All said and done, I will be eternally grateful to Pran and his creation, Chacha Chaudhary 😀

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  18. chacha chaudhary and Lotpot were very popular in my home,both my children are avid readers like me:)

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    1. They were really good in the original language of Hindi. Do you still read the comics?

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  19. Chacha Choudhry made our days. I used to wait for other comic book like- Phantom. I was preserving the first issue of ‘Phantom’ & magazine like ‘Nandan’ for many years but now lost!

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    1. Since when has Chacha Chaudhary existed? I hadn’t heard of the comics when I was young. I too had read a lot of Phantom and Mandrake since Indrajal Comics published them and they were available in India. It is sad that you lost the first issues of these magazines. They would have been collectors’items.

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  20. Somehow I never liked Chacha Choudhary. But I read Mandrake and Phantom then gradually graduated to Amar Chitra Katha and Tin Tin. Then of course Richie Rich, Archies etc. Yes I bought the full set of encyclopedia from a door to door salesman along with some kids books and CDs when my son was just two. He hasn’t delved much into the encyclopedia much as yet but I am hoping he will use it.
    His present favorite is Tinkle (I don’t know whether he really understands it but I am not going to ask or else I will have to read it to him 😛 ) And the other favorite is Chotta Bheem. Other than that he does read the picture books about Jagannath, Ajamila etc

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    1. I have nothing against Chacha Chaudhary. It is a very enjoyable comic series but the translation is awful. The Hindi version is good. So if one is looking to improve one’s language this is not the series to read, which was my objection to Vinni reading them 🙂 Today with online tools like Google, it is doubtful if children will even open the heavy volumes of the encyclopedia. Let’s hope Taksh does. I am sure he understands Tinkle, otherwise he would be pestering you to explain it to him 🙂 Where can one get picture books on Ajamila and all? Please send me the link if I can shop for them online.

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      1. It is available in all ISKCON centres mami. Online I don’t know

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        1. Ok, I will keep it in mind. Thanks, Bhagya.

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  21. I wish I had a mom like you when I was young to goad me into reading books.It was not to be.It is not that I have not read books but they were haphazard.I can never hold serious discussion about several great authors and their works.Reading Amar Chitra Katha,Chanda mama or Archie’s I would not consider serious even for kids beyond an age.
    May be as Chsuresh pointed out my thinking and imagination would have been better had I read as avidly as you have done.I am somewhat hesitant to read your interesting series on books as it shows my inadequacy!

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    1. I am unfortunately not the in the league of those who can spout wisdom about books and literature or have a ready quote or two on the tip of their tongue/finger. Otherwise I would be writing poems and fiction and even book reviews, not personal posts on books and reading 🙂 So please don’t embarrass me by saying that you hesitate to post comments on my blog. This space is open to all readers of the blog and everyone is welcome to express their opinions without any hesitation or fear of being snubbed.

      Reading comics is fine so long as it is not the only kind of books one reads. I am not ashamed to say that I still enjoy comics including Amar Chitra katha and Archies’ comics. And there is nothing wrong with your imagination, KP. Otherwise you wouldn’t be spinning so many short stories with such varied plots and being bilingual too at that!

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  22. hi, what a lovely note. I did not have to turn my daughter from a reluctant to a happy one. Since I had a very strong reading habit, she would pick up a book even as a one year old, sit next to me and sit the way I did, and look at the pictures. I remembered buying her the entire Tin Tin series and she would be running after us to read the books to her, as she was not even two. My father would make her sit on his laps and read from a large volume of Bengali version of the Mahabharat, which has many stories, stories within stories. My father would also read to her from Tagore and other Bengali writers. By the time she was two, she was reciting some of those poems. Once she went to school, she graduated to Enid Blyton and then to many others. Today, she is a historian and a scholar and I believe the early reading habits did have some profound effect on her .

    Though we had a BW 14 inch TV at home, we did not have all those private channels then and thankfully “humlog” and “buniyaad” had quite a positive impact on all of us. the world had not turned into “instant noodles or instant everything” just yet.

    I also invested similar amount of money in buying the encyclopedia and not a moment’s regret that I did so. i still have them at home.

    🙂

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    1. Ah, you used the trick of making them imitate you 🙂 Kids do it all the time and when a reading mother was obviously enjoying herself the little one must have decided to do the same! And with grandparents supplementing the efforts with books, she must have been one happy child! Oh yes, all the words, the books, the language — go into shaping the future career of a child. My children grew up in the satellite era but by the time it came, the older one was already in high school. So our family had been watching the serials you have mentioned, but also others like Bharat ek Khoj and Chanakya. Incidentally, it was the L&M and the kids who did all the watching. I was not patient enough to sit through any serial 🙂

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  23. Ah,my hubby is ONE RELUCTANT reader and i have not been able to enthuse him.Thankfully my kids are naturals.
    I wonder how those who do not like to read spend their free time,apart from watching TV of course.Yes there could be many other past-times ,come to think of it,but for me reading takes precedence.

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    1. But why should reading only be connected to books? Why not to other things? Like, Vinni had begun reading very late and the things that interested him most were news magazines. From there it went to autobiographies and essays by the likes of Abdul Kalam and now to best sellers too. He has introduced me to some great books (not best sellers). The idea is to read — something, anything. So your husband must be reading something too, if at least the newspapers? Those who don’t like to read don’t read anything. It is as if they have a phobia for words. Would you know the word for it, by any chance? If you do, please share it 🙂

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  24. Aah well… a similar incident here.

    One July evening, with rains not cooperating with them (‘Rain rain go away’ types) and enough admonitions from their parents against getting wet, some neighbours’ kids were stuck in a friend’s house. I was visiting them for some work, but got stuck myself thanks to the rains too.

    The lady of the house opened a cupboard filled with board games, most of them untouched, unwrapped even. Nobody was willing to play, coz the kid whose games they were wasn’t too keen on playing himself.

    I just grabbed a Scrabble set and started setting it up. The kid who owned it, refused to play. We, the remaining 4-5 kids & myself, happily ignored him and started playing. I scolded him when he tried to ruin the game, and forced him to sit next to me for the game. His parents knew what I was up to – introducing him to a new game – so they let me. Grumbling, irritated, edgy, but compliant, he sat down next to me. Seeing the simple scoring patterns and the double word and triple letter scores and all, by the time the game was halfway through, he was hooked, and I’d let him take over my set. They completed one game and started another. Of course, Scrabble rules went out the window for spellings – they started making up phrases and all into sentences, but they were hooked. The rains abated, so I left.

    A week after this visit, I visited them again to find the kids at it in full flow. The kid’s mom said that Scrabble was now part of their daily routine, and although I had forcibly pushed him into it, he realised how fun it was so played it quite well.

    It wasn’t that I had scolded him and forced him into a game – He already was a voracious reader, just that games that he didn’t know weren’t interesting enough for him. So when we started playing without involving him, forcing him to just watch, he saw how interesting it was and started playing.

    Sometimes such a random push is all that is required.

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    1. This is the mind game adults play with kids. And since the kid was already familiar with words and reading, it got him hooked. You hit the right spot since he might not have played other games as interestedly. Psst…I am not one for many board games either, but Scrabble and Pictionary are my favourites, as a family pastime. And yes, a nudge in the right direction without the one being aware of being nudged, is all that is needed sometimes. Wish I had known it at the time I was pushing Vinni into reading 😦

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  25. chsuresh63 · · Reply

    Like Rajesh says above, I am the first in my family too to read though mine was sparked by a bout of Esnophilia which kept me indoors and my mom, who supplied the books to keep me indoors 🙂 I was hooked from then and HOW! Btw, I probably started with ‘inappropriate books’ – read Kalki,Shandilyan, the Russian authors, PGW and Erle Stanley Gardner before I hit my 5th at school 🙂 The fact is that I started on Comics and Children’s books ONLY after college 🙂

    The lack of the reading habit, I think, blunts both thinking and imagination. When you read, you are free to imagine the characters, the settings and the entire FEEL of the ethos in which the story is set. You can take time to think about why the characters do what they do and the rights and wrongs of it all. A movie or a TV serial shuts out the imagination and does not allow you to ponder when necessary. I would hate to imagine a world run by people who do not read.

    Must be wondering about why all my reading comments are based on fiction 🙂 Unlike you, I am not too keen on non-fiction – except a few authors on philosophy 🙂

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    1. As I said in my reply to Rajesh, the reading habit includes every kind of material and the fact that these classics were made available to you meant that someone before you must have read them in the family, right? As for reading inappropriate books, we had no choice. EvenI had read all those books you have mentioned as I had written in my first post. I used to read both fiction and non fiction from an early age but philosophy has not been on my list 🙂 They were usually historical stuff and a lot of feminist literature as befitting someone who fancied herself to be one in the 70s 😀 Crime fiction and suspense thrillers stopped interesting me in my 20s when I began reading all the children’s books I had never got to read when I was growing up. I used to fight for them with my little son!

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    2. chsuresh63 · · Reply

      Yup – as far as the Ponniyin Selvan and all went both mom and dad used to read the magazines “Kumudam” “Kalki’ etc. and these were collated and bound from cuttings from those mag.s. Though, I daresay, neither of them would have considered reading the collated and bound books 🙂 They took their reading in small doses as handed out by the mag.s 🙂

      As for the rest, my mom got me a lot of books from the ‘raddi’ shop at Neyveli and, later, I was introduced to PGW et al by a neighborhood book-lover who had his collection of books. So, barring the Tamil magazines, I cannot really say that my family had the reading habit. THAT sort of reading habit was quite common in those days though, now, I daresay we would have people posting on Goodreads about how they are reading the latest issue of ‘Kumudam’ 🙂 Certainly no-one in my family approaches even by a mile my obsession with reading, that, even now, leads me to read something like 400-500 pages a day 🙂

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      1. LOL about people posting on Goodreads after reading the latest issue of Kumudam. Do you know that in our house these periodicals were banned? The only one considered respectable was Kalki though AV was ok, but still not good enough to buy 🙂

        If you could only see some of the ‘museums’ I have written about! You can find a lot of them in Delhi. Considering such houses, I would still say that your house with the magazines was a good place for readers. Had you ever asked your mother why she didn’t read the books she brought home for you? Maybe she had a valid reason and would have loved to read. Tell you another secret. While it is interesting to wait for and read the serialised stories every week, one doesn’t feel like picking up a collected bound volume. It is interesting only for those of us who have not read the story week after week.

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    3. chsuresh63 · · Reply

      Apropos my mom – I never wondered, Zephyr! She was the one who read from the book of life. The one thing I lack and truly wish I could have imbibed from her was her eternal curiosity and deep empathy and interest in the people around her. Her stories were all living around her in the houses surrounding us and in all the far flung relatives who wrote to her. Me – I got the stories from my books 🙂

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      1. What a wonderful thing to say about one’s mother! I remember the beautiful tribute you had paid her in one of your posts. Come to think of it, all those great men and women who lived in the pre-books era were all living repositories of stories and legends. And yes, we largely get out stories from books but also from life around us, who find their way into our posts/stories 🙂

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  26. In my family, there was no history of reading. I don’t remember anyone either from my fathers side or from my mothers side being curious about books or reading them. I’ve never seen a library (or even a shelf of books) in any of my relatives house. Except for text books, a few religious books, and weekly magazines, books were virtually absent in my family. In that sense, I was the first person to (automatically) develop this habit! So, I guess, even if there is no prodding, children who want to read will find a way to read someway 🙂

    Destination Infinity

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    1. In many families there was no concept of buying books and so unless there was an ardent devotee of books, you’d not find them at least in many middle class homes. But why do you only consider books as materials for reading. Periodicals and even newspapers are reading materials and if they were there, that meant that your folks were readers! And from there you must have got your thirst for reading books. But I agree that you must have been a pioneer in your family to be a book reader 🙂

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      1. Reading books was only *one* pleasurable activity I indulged in. There were many others – cricket, cards, carrom, trade, crafts, music, etc. etc. 🙂

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        1. All round interests are always good for personality development 🙂

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  27. You could easily have been narrating the tale of Sid and Gautam here. They are exactly like your sons. And I have tried everything to make the younger one pick up books. But no ma’am, he likes being read to :-). I am in no rush though. I am confident that both the kids will take after their mother in their reading habits! What irritates me is the hubby who expects him to start reading by magic just because there are books at home but NEVER makes an effort to read to him. Now Chacha Chowdhury. You already know from my last comment how much my brother and I dug thise comics :-). Are they even available now? But you are right! These days there is a mind-boggling variety of books available for children. Not to mention that it is another fact that parents tom-tom to others — My child is an avid reader 🙂

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    1. Oh I know about your boys 🙂 Sometimes the younger ones are a little intimidated and overawed by their big brothers who read so much and decide to give it a wide berth. But if the thirst is there, it will bear fruit sooner than later. Do ask Gurudev to read this post. I am adding a small corollary in the morals of the story 🙂 Chacha Chaudhary is very much available but please only buy the original Hindi ones. BTW, did you read them in English or Hindi?

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      1. Hindi :). I used to read Nandan, Champak and Parag also in Hindi as far as I remember.

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        1. Good for you! It was good in the original but terrible in English since most of it was translated literally 🙂

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  28. Found In Folsom · · Reply

    Yayy…I am first today 🙂 No, I don’t recollect anyone who turned into a happy reader. But, I am determined to make mine from a reluctant to a happy reader 🙂 I can say the little interest he gained is from all of my efforts and constant pushing. As I read many of the holocaust books, we discuss a lot about it and he wants to know more. Yesterday, I told him you need to start reading more to know more. Another pawn 🙂 And, I am waiting for that miraculous moment. 😉 My aunt was another crazy woman like you. She spent Rs 24,000 on some set of books from a salesman who came home….but, those books weren’t that much worth though..the content was not so great. I don’t spend much on books these days..Just go to the library and get what you want.

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    1. If Rushi is interested in holocaust get him the books I have written about. They are specifically for children. From there he can go ahead and explore more. I never bought the books for children that these salesmen brought to the door. But the spanking new volumes of the encyclpedia were more than worth the money I paid, especially since it saved time for the boys to be taken to the children’s library to work on their projects. Google was not there then, you see. You guys living in the US and UK are lucky to have great public libraries where you can borrow all the books you want.

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