Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Disjoint sets

I always thought there were two kinds of kids - kids who read and kids who watch TV. And to my distress, my kids seemed to fall firmly in the latter category.

The fault, I knew, was mostly mine - putting cartoons on was such a convenient way of keeping them  entertained while I tried to do other stuff. Little did I then realise that giving the kids even a little bit of TV was exposing them to what threatened to be a lifelong addition.
Cartoons and Cereals soon became the norm in my household. I could try any flavour of Kelloggs cornflakes, but they would only go down with Cartoon Network providing the background music. In the evenings, books were completely ignored. But every detail of Ben-10's alien forms could be repeated in excruciating detail.

It wasn't that the kids did not have books to read. If anything, they had too many books to choose from, and in the fond hope of inculcating the reading habit in them, I kept adding to their collection.
It wasn't that the kids did not have role models who read- they live under the same roof as a self confessed book slut.
It wasn't even that I did not try to make time for their reading. Reading a story was always intended to be a part of their bedtime routine, but the effort of getting them away from the TV took so much out of me, I often had no energy left for anything else.

I finally accepted the fact that my kids were not going to grow up to be readers.
Then, the whole lot of unconnected things happened.
The older one learnt to sight read enough words to be able to pierce a story together.
The younger one fell in love with a set of slightly moralistic stories told in a lighter vein and insisted on having three of them read out every night - 'one for me, one for my brother, and one for you'.
The older one realised that some books contained information about the things he was passionate about.
The younger one discovered the joy of commenting on photographs and counting numbers.
The miracle I was hoping for happened. I had two young book lovers in the family.

Now, when they are in a mood for it, you can't seem keep the kids away from their books. I have even seen the older one reading aloud to his brother when I am not around.
The kids are still addicted to the TV, but they are equally fond of books. The two sets are not disjoint after all.

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dipali said...

What a satisfying discovery to make!
There is much to be gained from TV too, but it usually gets a bad press:)
And the parents do play a tremendous role in all this.
Happy reading, Rayna M. and boys:)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ dipali - I quite agree, there is a lot to be gained from the TV. Forget the learning from the Discovery Channels, even their "stupid" cartoons help them develop a sense of critical reasoning and judgement. My mother who was a teacher is really impressed with the logical way in which they go about getting information- and for that, I have only the TV to thank.
BUT, I am glad they have finally developed a liking for books.

Helen Ginger said...

Yay for your kids! It is possible to raise kids who watch TV, are addicted to their computers and are avid readers. I've got two, fully grown ones to prove it. Both of mine are big readers. My son will read anything from textbooks to history books to Harry Potter. And he remembers what he reads. Plus, he's also in game design, so he'll be at his computer working a game while a TV is running at eye level next to the game.

I'm glad your kids are turning to books. There's something wonderful about imagining the book world that you don't get if you see that world through someone else's vision on TV.

Straight From Hel

Watery Tart said...

I find they do their own thing despite us. I was such a good mom to Natalie--never TV except occassional PBS or movies, always read (did that with both kids). By the time Sam came along we'd relaxed on TV. Now SHE is my instant gratification girl (TV--the Style Network--OI! What did I do to deserve THAT?) where Sam LOVES to read (he happens to ALSo like TV, but is much more varied in his activities and EVERY NIGHT reads to himself for more than an hour...

My conclusion: if you try too hard you mess them up. Calm down and it will sort out (though the reading to them IS valuable)

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

My kids love TV. And they love *good* books. Sometimes I have to spend a lot of my time finding books that have great blogger reviews (that are exciting and action packed) and that suit their reading habits.

I found, also, it worked well to marry media with books. I purchased Harry Potter on CD and made them read along with the CD. This worked really well--they were fascinated and they actually heard difficult vocabulary being pronounced (as opposed to reading it themselves and not knowing how the word was pronounced.) I guess they might end up saying some words with British accents, but oh well! :)

Mystery Writing is Murder

dipali said...

Yoy know, apart from a lot of other stuff, I love the Western classical music used in a lot of Tom and Jerry cartoons:)

Morgan Mandel said...

My brothers and I all loved to read early on in grammar school and still do. Unfortunately, the DH can't stand books.

Morgan Mandel

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Helen- I am so glad to hear that it is possible - was more than just a little scared that it may just be a passing fancy. And yes, the imagining you do is the best part of reading a book. Perhaps that is the reason I rarely watch movie adaptations of books I like

@ Tami - I bet it is just a passing phase with Nat. She's just testing the limits with you. I do try to read with them at least for half an hour a day, and succeed more often than not.

@ Elizabeth - I never really thought about marrying media that way. Tried the HP movies, but they are too different from the books for the kids to relate to them. CDs are different though.

@ Morgan - Who is the DH?

Anonymous said...

We got a new TV and 'lost' all those channels like Cartoon Network and Disney... thank goodness!

I've been reading some of your old posts - love this blog! I'll be back, she said - making it sound like a threat when it really is a promise! ;-)

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ LadyFi - thanks for stopping by, and I would love to have you carry out your 'threat'. And that is an idea!!!


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