We all have fond memories of reading from our childhood. For those of us who were avid readers, these memories are abounding. Others, who probably preferred being read to, can recall with affection and adoration a parent or grandparent who read to them regularly. Either way, it holds a special place in our collective memory.
We asked Shipra Parikh, Academic Excellence Lead at Stones2Milestones, about her childhood reading experiences and her reading journey so far. Shipra shared some delightful anecdotes from her childhood and how she was able to pass on the love for reading to her son, Gaurav, who is now 16 and a voracious reader himself.
Shipra said, “Reading for me has always been a way of life as far as I remember.” She grew up in a joint family and had always seen everybody around her read. Her family used to subscribe to multiple weekly, monthly and quarterly magazines for all age groups mostly in Gujarati, and they often read it together.
She went on to share, “The school where I studied, though very small, had an extremely print-rich environment; personal attention was given to each of our reading needs. As far as I remember most of my classmates read. Between my best friend and me we had a pact to exchange every book we read. She used to stay near one of the best public libraries in the city and we would spend our time there during the vacations.”
Every Sunday, Shipra had a date with her father from 8 am to noon. Together they went to the Ahmadabad Zoo and a nearby recreation park called ‘Bal Vatika’. She spoke excitedly about ‘Bal Vatika’ and it’s amazing library (small collection but award-winning books from all over the world). She says that due to their regular visits, the librarian used to keep the best books aside for her to read, which she would devour during her time there.
We asked Shipra about the kind of books that she used to enjoy reading and how she has evolved as a reader. She said, “I have experimented with all kinds of books; fiction, nonfiction, adventure, romance, quiz books, encyclopaedias, newspapers and magazines, both in English and Gujarati. I also tend to go back to some of my favourite books & texts from time to time. Lately, I have taken to listening to some of the classics on an app.”
Reading shapes our thoughts, beliefs and attitudes and contributes vastly to the person that we are within. When we asked Shipra to tell us about how reading has helped her become the person she is, she said, “I think reading has shaped my life and my thought process immensely. It has helped me understand the wider world. It has taken me to places and made me open my mind to possibilities beyond what is visible.”
Since she grew up loving books and understanding their immense value, she wanted the same for her son. She said, “I think that my son had no choice but to read as he was always surrounded by books. I always used to carry books in my baby bag along with his diapers and food. My husband and I read him stories and regularly visited the libraries and book festivals. Most of our Saturdays were spent at the British Council Library both in Delhi and Kolkata.”
Needless to say, that her son found the world of books equally fascinating. What developed his interest further was having peers in his school in Kolkata who were also readers. Shipra feels that constant motivation, appreciation and recognition from teachers, families, friends and parents plays a vital role in helping children become readers.
Regarding her son’s reading preferences, Shipra shared that he has a good understanding of literature and is able to enjoy fiction and non-fiction much beyond his age. Though he reads English language books, of late he has begun to experiment with French books.
Shipra is an only child and books were her constant companions. The same goes for her son now. She exclaims, “As a single child, I never felt lonely as I always had the company of books.”
Her reading journey is heartwarming and inspiring. When parents are readers and there is a beautiful reading culture at home, children are bound to grow up loving books. Shipra’s father and extended family inculcated this love in her and she furthered it in her child.