Sunday, June 3, 2012

Reading and the Kids

I am a bibliophile. I devour books like crazy. As I am so fond of relating, when I came to Japan I brought with me 25 books that I meant to use to tide me over until I could return to the US and reconnect with the rest of my library. I now have well over 200 books and about 300 or so waiting for me in the US to get back to them and eventually ship over.

It's with this in mind that Makoto's first Christmas present from Daddy was a set of books. Actually every Christmas has been books. Oh I do get toys and DVDs, yes, but there will always be a book waiting for both boys. Even going on trips, if I can find them, I bring home books for my sons. Makoto has been read to nightly by me from about age one and a half (We had to wait a bit to drive home the point that one is not supposed to EAT the book, especially if Daddy is reading it) and Hikaru from birth given that Daddy is in charge of hauling the wet, nekkid kids out of the tub from where they were bathing with Beloved, and getting them dressed and ready for bed. Our usual nightly routine has been a bit of TV (Star Trek usually) while dressing and settling down Hikaru, and then to the books as soon as Makoto finishes dressing himself and works out what he wants to read.

Beloved and I, working on this whole 'Make the kids bilingual' bit have a system worked out. I refuse to read anything in Japanese, she refuses to read anything in English. In terms of timing then, Japanese books are read during the day when Beloved has a few moments and the boys want something read, but bedtime stories are Daddy's providence.

Thanks to and a few trips to Tokyo, we actually have a fairly good collection of English children's books. Makoto's reading tastes change rapidly. He doesn't like long stories or stories with multiple chapters (Thomas being the sole exception) and even if he says he wants Winnie-the-Pooh, I know it's just going to be for two or three nights before he gets bored and starts demanding the good Dr. Seuss again. Hikaru has also gotten into reading, though we are still very much on the literal taste for reading phase. His favorite book is the classic "Goodnight Moon", which he brings to me any time I sit down at the table if food is not ON the table (Food being more important than reading of course).

I admit that sometimes I get bored with the kids books. The classics not withstanding, some of the books are just terrible. The Thomas series (The ones that have been re-written to match the TV show, not the original Railway Series) for example bores me to tears, the same with the Scooby Doo reader Makoto got from his aunt last year. While I will read them every so often when Makoto asks, there has been any number of nights where I've refused and told Makoto to get another book, any other book. The classics though... I admit, some of them invoke memories for me, either reading them myself or having them read to me. Many I hadn't really read before, but find them entertaining and of course they bring out the best part of all. Sitting in my chair when the day is done and both my sons next to me as I read them a story before bed, what other dad moment could be better than that?

I know I have joked about trying to geek out my kids, but I really do hope that they will continue to have a love of books. Given that they have two shelves full of books and are thrilled when I bring home more, I think it's working. Soon they'll have a large collection too... and will probably annoy their wives or mates just as much as I have annoyed Beloved in attempting to find space to store them all.  

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