Once a lady asked a renowned Educationalist “When can I start books for my child?” “How old is your child?” he asked. “Three Years.” replied the lady. “Run my lady. Run home at once, you have already lost three precious years.” Screamed the educationalist.

 
Is this any kind of joke on parenting? No. It is not. Most parents think that child raising just involves nutritious food, clean clothing, right environment, harmless toys, regular checkup with the pediatrician and a thorough follow up of vaccines. Providing for their future they make provisions by way of investments, fixed assets, bank deposits, policies etc,.But they miss out a vital element –Books. Books are often looked as objects which are supposed to be introduced by the teacher in the K.G classes. But the actual fact is that just like food and clothing the one most important thing that a child has to be given right from birth is books.
 
Having worked as a teacher and librarian I have seen  first hand,the love affair that children have for certain books. For me,every child should be given the gift of reading books. Its the only gift which keeps growing and adds to the personality of the child.
 
Researches say that the most crucial stage of brain development in a child are the early years, from 0-3 yrs. The impressions, stimuli received during these three years decide mainly upon the intellectual and emotional quotient of the child in the later years. Why is it so? The child’s brain develops fully only after birth. The connections between the neurons in the brain are made during these three years. Increasing the activity of the brain during these three years helps in maximum establishment of connection between the neurons. Studies reveal that the activities along with positive stimuli increase the emotional quotient also. Brains of children that received little stimulation have been found to be 20% smaller than those exposed to more stimuli. In one study, children who received lots of early stimulation had brains 15% more active than others.
 
How to increase the brain’s activity in a child? Simple, tell them stories, show them big colorful pictures, sing to them, give them crayons or pencil to scribble, smile and laugh heartily, and talk to them all the time. Proving our culture to be scientific the studies also reveal that singing and Storytelling boosts synapse development and strengthens a child’s vocabulary, welcoming the good old days of granny’s lullabies and tales. From birth, children can distinguish among hundreds of sounds. Different sounds create a cluster of neurons in the auditory cortex that will later create a response to each sound. Storytelling increases the frequency and number of sounds heard, and therefore the number of neuron clusters created.
 
What is the secret in telling stories? The first rule is that you should understand that to a child, stories are instances of favourite happenings. They take children to a fantasy world where the characters do and experience things which the children cannot do in their real life. Second rule- Read the story not as an adult but as a child. Learn to go into the child’s world and see things from the child’s point of view. Plan as where you should elaborate the point, add instances, make it simple for understanding and pour humor into it. Develop your voice modulation so that you can pull the child into the story. Stories told with a plain voice fails to attract interest however enchanting they are.
 
Set aside a time for telling stories. Make those moments very special that your child should look forward for it every day. Meal times are the best as stories can avoid watching sobby soaps and meaningless cartoons. Choose stories with good morals and models and most important- tell them at the right time. When you are weary and tired after a hard day choose a simple panchatantra, if you have enough deal of time at hand and your child is also wide awake, go for stories on culture and values, encourage discussions on them and always be prepared to answer the following shot of queries. To persuade them from tantrums punch them with humor or mesmerize with enchanting fairy tales. For lighter moments summon witty Birbal and Tenali Raman. Treat her with epics every now and then, especially on festival days. They sure will add lasting hues to the festivity. Be equipped with a wealth of stories. Start reading them even if you had not read or heard them in your own childhood days. Once you are inside, you will find out that the world never runs out of stories. Try to show them pictures. Do not miss to point out things, people or happenings you come across in real life similar to the ones you read to her in books or spoke. Wait for your child to recognize those similarities and reward her with praises.
 
 
While starting with books take your child in your lap and show them carefully. Instill the sense of handling books properly right from the beginning. Your child should value books as treasure house of information and not just a cluster of papers. Make him put them back in their own place after the session is over. Do not fail to mention the care he takes for books to guests and relatives. Children are hungry for appreciations and strive to keep them up. Choose books with big colourful pictures and beautiful illustrations. For toddlers always go for hard bound laminated books which cannot be torn and can be wiped clean. Pay regular visit to libraries and ask for help from the librarian .He must be able to guide you on books suitable for your child’s age group. Allow your child to handle books on his own- if they are from your own collection!
 
Stimulus doesn’t just come by way of story telling. Your child would be fortunate if you can sing to her. Sing melodious songs with clear and comprehensible words. Values in songs with repetitive words and fast notes are catchy and ingrain deep in the system of the child. Stories can also be used as tools of parenting. Talk to your child about your family, work, friends, relatives, your teachers, childhood days show photographs and share memories with them. These intimate talks would help them move closer towards you and in return would make them open up, share or even resort for counsel during tough times. But remember not to show up to be Mr. Perfect as it might strip your split when you are careless or out of your wits. They might even pose you up as a hard to follow role model. Stories don’t just pass time but also ease out parenting crisis. When your child showed a behavioral problem during the day and you had a tough time tackling him, handle it indirectly by telling about a boy who behaved like him/her and what happened to him as an outcome of is good/bad behavior. But steer clear from comparing. Children sometimes need to find out for themselves the way of acting in the right manner. Give them time and opportunity to review themselves.
 
 
 Lastly don’t blame lack of time. However fast our times run we never miss to brush or bath or feed our child. What food is to body so are communications to the little mind. We can always exploit the time in traveling, standing in queues or even waiting at the doctor’s office. Never negotiate the time you spend with your child for children are the best gift we can ever have in our life.