Inheriting the Reading Gene

Children with book loving parents are more likely to read. Shipra Parikh shares how her family turned her and her son into avid readers.

Passing down the reading gene from generation to generation.

We all have fond childhood memories of reading. For those of us who were avid readers, these memories are abounding. Others can recall with affection a parent or grandparent who read to them regularly- this is how we inherit and activate our reading gene. Strengthened by family traditions, reading holds a special place in our collective memory.

From Childhood to Parenthood- A Book Lover’s Journey

We asked Shipra Parikh, our team member, to describe her reading journey from child to parent. She shared with us a few delightful anecdotes from her childhood and about how she was able to pass on the reading gene to her son, Gaurav, now a voracious reader at 16.   

“Reading for me has always been a way of life as far as I remember.”

Growing up in a joint family, Shipra has always seen everyone around her read. Her family had multiple subscriptions to weekly, monthly and quarterly magazines for all ages. A large chunk of them were in Gujarati, and were often read together as a family.

“The school where I studied, while very small, had an extremely print rich environment. Personal attention was given to each of our reading needs. For this reason, as far as I remember, most of my classmates read. My best friend and I had a pact to exchange every book we read. She lived near one of the best public libraries in the city, and we’d spend time there every school vacation.”

Every Sunday, Shipra had a date with her father from 8 am till noon. Together they went to the Ahmedabad Zoo and a recreation park nearby called ‘Bal Vatika’. She spoke excitedly about Bal Vatika’s amazing library (a small, but award winning collection of books from across the world). A loyal visitor, the librarian kept aside the best books aside for her, which she’d devour gratefully.

Reading Shapes Personality

We asked Shipra about the kind of books that she used to enjoy reading and how she has evolved as a reader- “I have experimented with all kinds of books: fiction, nonfiction, adventure, romance, quiz books, encyclopedias, newspapers and magazines – both in English and Gujarati. I also tend to go back to some of my favorite books and 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 asked how reading has helped her become the person she is, Shipra says, “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. The reading gene is what makes me who I am today.” 

Girl Reading Book
Books become part of our identity.

The Book Lover’s Child

Because Shipra grew up loving books, she understands their immense value, and wants the same for her son.

“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, her son finds the world of books equally fascinating. What developed his interest further was having peers in school 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 shares 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 books, of late he’s begun to experiment with French books.

As an only child, books were Shipra’s constant companions. Today, the same goes for her son. She exclaims, “As a single child, I never felt lonely as I always had the company of books.”

Shipra’s reading journey is a heart-warming and inspiring tale. When parents are readers, they create a beautiful reading culture at home. As a result, children learn to fall in love with books. Shipra’s family nurtured this love in her, which she has now passed down to her child. Perhaps he will pass it down to his children, and so the cycle continues.

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