by KB Meniado
Parents naturally want their children to have a head start in life, and the key to this lies in starting them young on good habits. Here, Faye Pimentel-Rodriguez shares how she started building a library for her three-year-old son Caleb, and why she thinks it is important to encourage reading at an early age.
Hi, Faye! Thanks for doing this interview. Before anything else, Caleb is adorable! Can you tell us a little bit more about him?
Caleb is now two years and eight months old. He is an active kid who enjoys outdoor time and going on trips. Lately, he has been very much into trains, and turns “serious” when playing with them. Of course, he loves his books a lot too—we have to have books in almost all areas of the house!
That’s fantastic to hear! Did he inherit his love for books from his parents?
Definitely! I, for one, enjoy reading during my free time. It is probably my only hobby! I have been a book lover for as long as I can remember. We couldn’t afford books when I was growing up so I was always in the library at school during my free time to read as much as I could. I even worked in the college library for my required work hours as a scholar.
How did you introduce Caleb to books? Where did it all start?
I started reading to Caleb when he was about two to three months old. I have always known the importance reading has in an infant’s early development, so I vowed to make reading a major part of our mother-son relationship. More than that, I just really wanted Caleb to enjoy and love reading as much as I did. My “quarantine project” was to start building his library, so I have been collecting books for him from various topics to see what will spark his interest.
Any favorites so far? Perhaps about trains?
Caleb has had several favorite books in the past two years! By far, the longest one on his favorites list is The Perfect Hug, which he had since before he turned one, and he still requests for it to be read even to this day. He is also drawn to Bible stories like the Creation story, the stories of Daniel, Noah, and Jesus. Recently, he’s been enjoying Julia Donaldson’s books, particularly The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child. Last, but definitely not the least, he loves all books related to outer space.
A future astronaut! Why not, right? You mention he requests for books to be read to him. How does your reading time look like?
Our scheduled reading time is usually before his nap time or bedtime. It is my way of allowing him to settle down before he goes to sleep.
During the day, however, he randomly picks up his books and will ask me to read to him. He usually chooses which books he wants to be read during our reading time. However, since I have acquired quite a number of books recently, I now preselect about five titles from which he can take his pick. This will also allow me to introduce new books to him. Of course he has his favorites, which we have to read every day for about two to three weeks before we can move on to a different book.
My recent book purchases for him carry a wide range of topics. Aside from the usual storybooks, he now has titles for nature study, history, math, art, and biographies. I offer at least one new book for us to read during our bedtime routine.
Sounds like a well-rounded approach! For other parents out there who might want to know where you get your books, can you share any of your recommended bookstores?
I am a fan of book sales. Many of Caleb’s early books were bought from the Big Bad Wolf and National Bookstore book sales. However, due to the pandemic, I was forced to find other sources. I read blogs of some homeschooling moms to check their book recommendations and they almost always mention where they bought the books from. Also, thanks to Instagram, I had no difficulty finding online book sellers.
For brand new books (particularly books by Usborne Publishing):
- Rooke+Reese– a Davao-based seller, which has both a physical and online store
- Happy Spines PH
- My Little Genius PH
- Bookery for Kids and Mums
For secondhand books, here are some stores which have supplied me with items that are in excellent condition, almost brand new, but remain very affordable. They also have a great selection of books to choose from.
May I just add that this library project has opened up various opportunities for me? As I was adding more books to our collection and sharing it online, some of my friends ask where I get my books from, or commenting how expensive shipping fees can be. I shared these feedback to my husband, and he brought up the idea of me starting a book-selling mini-business to address the demand within our circle of friends. Fueled by my passion for books and reading, I started buying books in bulk to save on shipping fee and offer our friends affordable and quality titles.
So far, I have been offering several brand new and preloved books, mostly to our common friends. The reception was excellent! This has really encouraged me to continue with this passion project and hopefully offer a wider range of selection soon!
In case your readers are interested, available books are posted on my personal Facebook account here, with separate albums for brand new and preloved books.
The circle of our reading lives! Why do you think it’s important to encourage reading at his age?
I definitely believe in starting reading as early as possible. Babies and toddlers learn mostly through their senses. Books and reading use at least three of them (sight, hearing, and touch). Of course, they can also smell and eat the books, which is highly likely at their age. Kids understand more than we usually give them credit for. Even if your child does not seem to be taking in a word you are reading, just carry on. You will later be surprised by how much information they have acquired. I know I was.
Also, since the actual encounter of children with concrete objects and experiences is still limited at this age, books will give them the next best thing. On top of that, books will expand their vocabulary and speed up their language and speech development.
Last, any tips for other parents who want to do the same?
I have plenty. Hahaha! But I will highlight three pieces of advice.
- Start them young!
- Read every day. Make it a habit to read to your kids every day. This will not take a lot of time and effort. One storybook can be done in less than 10 minutes. This age and these years will pass us by so swiftly, so we need to make the most out of it. More than the books you read, your kids will remember the attention you gave them, the time you spent with them, and the connection that you will foster, which they will carry for the rest of their lives.
- Quality over quantity. Caleb is not even three yet but I already bought him a ton of books, and let me tell you: not all books are created equal! There are great books, good books, and bad books. You have to choose wisely. Quality does not always mean it’s expensive. Some of Caleb’s favorites are bought from secondhand bookstores. Quality refers to the content and substance of the books. How it is written is just as important as what is written in the book. ❤