My teenaged son, Santi, is probably one of the most shy and reserved teenagers among his peers. His often serious disposition and somewhat aloof temperament must be a surprise to some, that even adults often mistake him as being slightly older than he is. What many of his friends will probably not know is that behind this seemingly reserved facade is that my son is a true-blue bookworm.
My husband and I often tease each other that when we worked in bedtime reading to our children’s routine, we must have done it so successfully. Now, Santi amusedly cannot put down a book even over lunch or dinner. In fact, his books are literally scattered all over the house—on kitchen tabletops, bathroom rompers, on coffee tables, and even under the bed. He says that leaving these books lying around the house makes it easy for him to grab one wherever he finds himself. It’s funny too that the only place he always gets lost in is at the bookstore.
For starters, he started veering towards mystery novels with the series entitled 39 Steps, and the typical young adult books like Percy Jackson and Wimpy Kid. For some weird reason though, Santi never got past Rowling’s third Harry Potter installment—eliciting a poignant commentary about how the movie spoiled reading the text for him.
Then, some years ago, Santi by chance browsed through an e-book version of Jeffrey Archer’s Cain and Abel on his Dad’s iPhone. Before we knew it, he had finished three chapters of it over an afternoon at the mall. Later on, he begged to buy the paperback so he could finish the book from cover to cover. His high regard for Jeffrey Archer is not at all something you would expect of a teenager really. At one time, he was exclaiming excitedly at a bookshop that he got hold of an autographed copy of Archer’s A Prisoner’s Tale. These days, he has finally completed the entire collection of Archer’s works, often reading them repeatedly. In fact, just a month back, when Archer’s newest book was released, we had to scour through at least five bookstores around Manila to get hold of a copy. Fortunately, we found one last copy for him to buy that weekend.
For the past Christmases and birthdays, the entire family has given him all sorts of gift cards from bookstores around town, knowing that Santi would appreciate those most. I guess if you could judge a person by his book collection, then you would think my son is slightly more senior than he really is. His library collection now dotted with Stephen Ambrose’s war novels, Jeffrey Archer titles, graphic novels, interspersed with Percy Jackson and John Green books reminds you though that this is still a teenager’s throve. Although Santi still prefers the smell and feel of the printed copy, lately however, he has us convinced that clicking online for his hard-to-find book list is just as rewarding and even less costly. What his Dad and I realized though is that if he buys books in volume online, it doesn’t turn out cheaper at all.
These days, with the easy access to the Internet and social media, raising an avid reader has been challenging for many parents. Ironically, the advent of the electronic book should have in fact made it easier for youngsters to read. Sadly though, most young kids don’t acquire the habit of reading early on and prefer visuals over text. Truth be told, the love for books is also something that children learn from seeing people close to them live and love the habit of reading themselves. And so, as parents, show your children how much you enjoy reading and learning from it. Soon enough, you’ll learn that raising a book lover is truly worth tens of brownie points for parenting after all.