Monday, March 2

“Bacalah!” (Read!)

by BFO

My earliest memory with Abah; my late father was going to bookstores during the weekends. Kaklong, Kakngah, Tam and I would be given the chance of picking one book each, which we would devour from cover to cover. I remembered Abah sometimes sitting down and reading my books with me. It could be that very act of my father, or my own inborn affinity towards books, or a combination of both – that I remain a bookworm until this very day. My three sisters are booklovers too, more so than our younger siblings; the fifth, sixth and seventh kids.

One could argue that they - Pip, An and Inah (my three youngest siblings) do not have the same relationships with books like us the elders because they were born in the era of technology where computers and walkmans had just started to rule the day. Then the handphones and iPods came along and became perpetual appendages to the kids’ ears and hands. Technological invasion aside, I would also point out that Abah was much busier too by then. He could not afford the time (not money) to take them to bookstores like he did with us, let alone sit and read with them.

I always encouraged the parents that I have worked with to read to, and with, their children. Some of them have already done so, and some were amenable to the idea and would try it out, while others would say –
“… mana saya nak cari masa Cik B?”
(“where do I find the time (for it) Miss B?”)

“… saya sendiri tak minat buku…”
(“…even I am not interested in books..”)

And another professional said to me –
“Malaysian generally do not read to their kids lah, B!”

Well, my friend’s observation is probably true. I reckon Malaysians have more handphones per household than books – although I don’t have the statistics to back up my claim (and neither did my friend, mind you). Nonetheless, not-so-recently I had read on a sound research study done in Britain about how reading, kids (sons, more specifically) and parents (fathers are the highlight) are intertwined, and I’d like to share it with you here. Do read on.

Boys read if Dad does

* by Adele Horin, December 1, 2008, from

A study has shown that fathers can raise boys' interest in reading simply by setting a good example and reading more themselves.

A study by Killian Mullan, a research associate at the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW shows in two-parent families the boys who read the most have fathers who also like to read a lot. And the girls who read the most have mothers who read.

In lone-mother families, boys and girls are equally influenced by their mothers' love of reading.

But parents have to devote at least 50 minutes a day to a book, newspaper or magazine to have any influence on their children's reading habits. And they have to read where their children can see them.

The research is based on time-use diaries on a typical day of two-parent and lone-mother families in Britain.

However, very few parents read so much and only 17 per cent of the boys and 26 per cent of the girls read anything on the day examined, homework excluded.

Dr Mullan will present his findings at the International Association for Time Use Research conference in Sydney starting today.

BFO is related to Intan Gemilang by virtue of being the sister of its founder. Views expressed in BFO’s articles are hers alone and may not represent Intan Gemilang’s. BFO is a speech-language pathologist and an academic staff member of a university in Kuala Lumpur. She is currently completing a PhD degree in deafness studies in Australia.

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