Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Am I a tiger mom?

Earlier this summer, when I was visiting my family on Cape Cod, we happened to be at an event at the local library. I noticed that they were hosting a children's reading program which involved "pledging" how many books, or hours would be spent reading during the summer.

As my sister was in another room, and no one else was around to ask about this program, I filled out a "pledge" for Jake that we would read 100 books this summer. (4 or 5 a night, with over a month to go... reasonable, right?). When I told my sister, she looked at me like I was a nut (or a Tiger Mom, taking over the library pledge).

At the time, what I didn't consider was that it really needed to be 100 DIFFERENT books, which changed things a bit, as we recycle favorites on a very regular basis. But, we rose to the challenge, and went to the library frequently. Jake (although he's only 3) really had fun with it, and was excited about the idea. And, we did it! We read over 100 books! We were lucky enough to be back on the Cape when they had the party to celebrate the completion of the children's "pledges". I was a little shocked that he came in the top three for reading and received an extra prize (but as my sister pointed out, most mom's aren't pledging 100 books...what do I know, I'm new to this as Jake is my one and only!).

I love to see Jake's excitement and responses to books, and I think he now has a pretty incredible vocabulary for a 3-year-old. Reading provides the time for me to explain new words and actions that tv just can't. Not that I'm anti-tv...I think it has it's time and place, and a lot can be learned from it. Although, 100 books may sound like a lot, it really wasn't that difficult to do (as a mom reading to her son). Perhaps a more standard pledge may have been 20 books? But, just think what we both would have missed out on!

I didn't read Amy Chua's somewhat controversial book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but in her article entitled, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior" in The Wall Street Journal, she rose several interesting points (many which I find quite harsh). She claims that with children, "nothing is fun until you get good at it." and "once a child starts to excel at something...he or she gets praise, admiration and satisfaction. This builds confidence and makes the once not-fun activity fun." I agree with this to a certain extent in that you should encourage your child not to give up too easily on a difficult activity because with a little hard work, it could turn into something they really enjoy (for instance, in my case, this could be skiing! I was always scared, but my dad kept at it, and it turned into a life-long activity which I love.) She believes in rote repetition, which may work, but I also believe that you can make learning fun. Why should it be considered "boring" or "not fun" to read a book? Books, and the imaginations of the authors and illustrators are certainly a gift to me.

Jake and I made our reading fun, I'm proud of him (as only a mom can be!). I think we'll start on a hundred more this fall!

P.S. Cool 3-D tiger print available from Lil Co. here!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't think this sounds unreasonable...I wish I had done it myself!