Happy Birthday to my second born child, a lovely daughter who is now a high school math teacher in the San Francisco area who has grown up to be what every parent their child will be. ( I am lucky because both of my daughters fit this category.) Among her many other talents, she loves to read. I am confident that Geetha's love of reading helps to make her not only a great teacher but also a strong, contributing member of society at large.
Of course, I would love to take full credit for this but know that some of it is just a part of her nature. She has that natural love of learning that became apparent the minute she became aware of the world around her.
I read to my children practically from the moment they were born--or maybe before they were born. We looked at books and loved books. We played word games as soon as they began to express an interest in language. The girls also watched their parents--both parents--read for pleasure. Study after study suggests that these are things that inspire children to grow up to be readers.
One of my greatest delights was reading to my children in bed at night. Perhaps the first time that Geetha read a word--at least the first time that I was sure she had picked out the word by herself without any memorization of familiar texts--was when I was reading Heidi to both girls. Jaya was on the top bunk, enjoying the story in her own private world there. Geetha was beside me. Suddenly she called out, "Up! See it says up!" Since Heidi travels up and down the mountainside frequently throughout the book, there were plenty of repetitions of this short word. Geetha figured out which set of letters were there when I was reading "up". I think Geetha was about three at the time. If I had not read to her, she would not have had that opportunity to put the letters together with the words and thus start on her journey to enjoying all that reading has to offer.
I read to Geetha well into middle school. We read a wide range of books from classics to the newest thing out. One of my favorite experiences was reading Winnie the Pooh with her first as a young, young child and then when she was about 12, and maybe a few times in between. We had great discussions of the differences in meaning that she and I got as young children and then as we aged. She, like her mother and my mother before me, has re-read Pooh more than once. We discussed what we were reading, no matter what it was. We laughed at Mr. Popper's Penguins, Absolute Zero, and many more. Tears streamed down our cheeks as we finished The Dog Who Wouldn't Be. We have a special bond, my girls and I, over the things that we have read together.
Now my girls live on either coast and I see them all too rarely. We often discuss books, though. They will read something that they think I MUST read and I offer them similar suggestions. Because of their diverse interests I have been introduced to subjects and styles that I would have otherwise overlooked.
Happy Birthday, Geetha, and thanks for all the reading and thinking and living that you have inspired.