Raising a Reader (Prologue)

It is not the first time we went to the library. But it is the first time I borrow the book from the National Library in Singapore. Don’t judge me. For more than a decade I live in Singapore, I never borrow the books from the National Library because of the following reasons.

For the first four years, I lived in NTU, a university whose campus library has enough books.

After I graduated, I practically didn’t have time to read books. I was busy with works.

Soon enough, I enrolled in NUS for pursuing my Master Degree. Part time. The works still go on. So the abovementioned both reasons are becoming more valid than ever. My campus has enough books, and I don’t even have the time.

I, for my love of reading, still reading books but in different medium. Poisoned by Dina’s unparallelled persuasive skills, I bought a Kindle together with her in Qisahn few years back. Ever since, I’m stuck with ebooks mostly. Of where I get the ebooks from, you don’t want to ask me. Because you won’t believe pirates or anyone with questionable morals anyway. Yes. It’s not good. I’m sorry.

But since my moral compass is not always skewed to the dark side, I registered online to be the National Library member anyway. Again, persuaded by Dina (she’s a primary school teacher, so persuasion is a must-have skill), I installed overdrive on my smartphone. And oh boy it’s so easy to borrow library e-books. And this time you don’t have to read with feeling guilty. Not that I felt guilty reading pirated books in the first place.

But that’s all about my reading habit. I read for my own pleasure. Until the little Evangeline came along. I and my wife both enjoy reading. We were the students who sit in the classroom reading school library book during recess, commonly mocked as a bookworms, and didn’t get invited to the running and jumping games because the other students know we weren’t interested. If that remind you of younger you, read on.

So we want to raise our kid to be mini-me, basically raising a reader. And screen exposure is not really good for babies. Especially after my daughter had slammed my Nexus 5 into oblivion. Trust me. Borrowing books is much safer. In order to do that we need to induce reading interest to our daughter, Evangeline.

Since she was few months old, her mother would give her books. There are few types of books suitable for little creatures. We gave Evangeline the following books.

Board books. It’s just a book with very thick pages. You can get it as cheap as SGD1-2 in book fair.

Cloth books. It’s just a book made of clothes. Mothercare sells it expensive, though. Like SGD 20.

The content does not really matter for Evangeline when she was under 1 year old. Our target is to make her interested in books. It helps that the parents read in front of her (newspaper, textbooks, magazines, etc) because Evangeline really like to mimic our action. We observed she copied us well, by flipping, reading (looking at the objects in the pages), and within two weeks of this intensive reading exercise, she could tell if her book is upside down. She will flip it back to upright position before continuing flipping the page.

I couldn’t really remember when it was, but definitely between 1 to 2 years old, she started to ask us to read books together with her, and she will point to objects inside the book and tell us its name (i.e. Star. Circle. Triangle. Heart). She also will spot star in other brochures, or heart in some baby stuffs logos.

Knowing that she already recognized objects, we hop on the learning train and go full impact on the reading program. Evangeline’s grandma supplied us with MakBook™, an activity cloth book made by Evangeline’s grandma. And within a week plus Evangeline had mastered the shape matching activites. Knowing the rate of her devouring books, we now have to resort to the public library.

We spent one day for a library visit to Pasir Ris Public Library. It’s not the nearest, but the nearest one, Tampines Regional Library, was not chosen for certain reasons.

Pasir Ris Public Library is located inside White Sands, a mall with spread of amenities to attend to berserk babies (changing diaper and nursing room) and to entertain panic mothers (restaurants, shops, and airconditoned environment).

Tampines Regional Library is located in Tampines New Town. Being a building on its own, you need to go out of the library from the airconditioned room to adjacent buildings. And Tampines has a lot more people than Pasir Ris. More people plus no aircon equals no.

Pasir Ris is where our swimming pool is located. When we want to save on our house electricity bills by turning off airconditioning in our rooms, but we also want to maintain our sanity, we just take a dip in the swimming pool. We don’t swim. We just submerge. It’s different. Ours takes minimum effort. So when the library is in the building next to the swimming pool, it’s a big plus.

Long story short, we went to the Pasir Ris Public Library, Evangeline enjoyed it a lot. She read (flipping and pointing objects she knew) and truly a reader. She will focus on her books at hand, and move on to next book once she finished. My wife want to borrow some books home, but I said perhaps next time, because we’re going to be overseas for a while and I don’t want to neither rush to read a book or be charged fine because of returning books late. So, borrowing books is for another time.

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