While out shopping as a company to my dear wife a few weeks back, I happened to stumble over to the kids’ section of a shopping mall, trying to get hold of my four year old completely-out-of-control son. As usual, nothing but the artificial divinity of this section could calm his nerves down, and he so predictably came to a halt in awe of the surroundings, and got lost in the colourful walls, huge stuffed toys, and for the first time perhaps – books. Though if I think back, he might not have been as serious while throwing a glance at the books as was made out by me (you know parents pay attention to what they want to pay attention to). Nevertheless, I hauled him up in my arms affectionately, and landed him right in front of the books he now seemed somewhat unsure about. In the end I feel I ended up buying a number of books, more to my liking than his.
Most of these books, just as their earlier relatives now occupy a designated and neglected section of our room, however, we started reading the new story books to him, just to check, yet again, whether he has inherited the love of books from his parents. And to our great surprise, he listened. He listened, and asked questions, and got excited, and related that the elephant or the rabbit or the fox in the story met him the other day, and they even shared food. The crux is that his imagination was given a way out when he listened to the stories. More importantly, ever since that day he keeps picking up the books and pointing at the pictures to urge us to read him another one. Or the earlier ones again.
Of course things do not remain that dreamlike uninterrupted for long. The activity is not as smooth as we would like it to be. During the process,he keeps jumping around, behaving like the animals in the stories, asking us to roar like a lion, stopping us midway and raising back the issues from a previous read. Also, he often wants us to rush on the stories to know the end, right at the beginning, and gets somewhat annoyed by the colour of the eyes of the rabbit, who according to him is more like an alien, as rabbits are like what he has seen in another of his books. Hard to argue with that! But we agree with him, and now we have two types of rabbits, the real ones, and the alien ones.
All in all, I see the point why so many people suggest reading stories to kids. It is effective, engaging, and quite fruitful. It might not establish control as kids are rather excited while you narrate to them. But they do use their imagination and creativity, and they learn new words, ideas, possibilities, and even tricks. The idea that books are fun is registered to their minds in this early age, and that helps in the long run.
Now, I love it when at bed time he goes over to the book-rack and starts throwing away all books till the time he finds the one which has the picture and story of an alien lion. Yes, we have that too!