In the prologue of my book Write Here Write Now: Standing at Attention Before My Imaginary Style Dictator, I handwrote a chapter in honor of the personal letter.
My six-year-old niece Rafa, my brother Allen‘s firstborn, to whom I wrote the letter by way of a dedication, read it aloud at the launch as part of the brief program, with her three-year-old sister Georges listening and watching intently by her side.
In my letter, I wrote: “This book is for you, your little sister Georges, and my other nieces, your cousins Tisha and Martha, as well as all the world’s children who, like you, are now learning their ABCs, their do-re-mis, their one-two-threes…”
As our attention span is shortening at the rate by which our world is changing, there must be a concerted effort among us adults to raise our children on a diet of books and books and more books.
But never ever pressure them to love reading.
Make it fun, not a chore, not punishment. Allow them to build good, tender, liberating, and empowering memories around books like you reading to them, re-enacting the tall tales of yore, breathing life into stories that existed only on the pages, or reliving the lives of the heroes and heroines of history.
I don’t remember the exact figure, but I read somewhere that studies show the child who reads with a passion is up to twenty times more likely to succeed than the child who reads only when he has to, such as when it is required in school or by his parents.
It is not only because a child learns many things by reading, good and bad, but because a child can be many people, can live many lives, can go everywhere, be anything between the covers of books. There, on the pages, the child learns to put himself in the shoes of others, so that when it is time for him to lead them, he knows a little more about what he should or shouldn’t do. He knows a little bit more about the ways of the world, about what is possible and what is not, what is good and bad.
By reading, the child also gets to learn the value of perspective. He learns, for example, that no matter how fortunate he is, there are so many others more fortunate and that, when he is feeling down, there are countless others way below him.
As I wrote in one of the passages that my niece Rafa read before the crowd at my launch at Powerbooks at Greenbelt 4, “May you and all the other children find your voice and keep it, despite all the noises and the other voices that may try to drown it as you turn from children to grownups… May it be yours when you need to be heard or understood or read or to express who you are, what you want, what makes you happy.”
There is no book in the world, except maybe the bible, that has all the answers, but many a book can help open your mind as well as your heart and soul and lead you to a better place.
Remember to read to your child today.