Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I am a writer but I did not read storybooks

I never liked to read storybooks when I was in school. My mom, my grandparents and my teachers would coax me to read to improve my English vocabulary but read I did not. Instead, I spent a great part of my childhood in libraries looking at shelves of books that were 'not meant for children'. I loved reading newspapers and magazines. However, I felt guilty for not wanting to read the Enid Blytons, Nancy Drews, Agatha Christies or Hardy Boys that were part of my friends' and brother's childhoods. Through my college years, I spent a great part of my time in the libraries sifting through books of history, geography, sciences, languages, biographies, etc. I'd go to the library at Mumbai's St Xavier's College during the Diwali vacation only because they would clean the rare books at that time. I volunteered to help once and got a chance to read a paper by Charles Darwin published in Nature magazine in 1900. Another time, I dusted the Latin books that were in a corner cupboard of the library's Honours' section. I grew to love books that talked about real people and real worlds. I now have people coming to me with complaints that their kids don't read storybooks. I tell them, "I never did and still don't do. Maybe you should let them read anything they want to read and not just fantasy."

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