The other day I was writing an article and, as is my habit, was referring to the Dictionary app on my phone to be doubly sure about the context and usage of difficult and/or confusing words in it.
A Jr was observing me closely and after waiting for an impressive five minutes his barrage of questions began.
A Jr: Mamma, why do you keep looking in the Dictionary? You don’t know the meaning of the word?
Me: I do, beta. But since this will get published, I have to be sure that there’s no room for mistake. Sometimes we use the wrong words in haste or overlooking.
A Jr: Yes, you are right. We should know the words we write. Like, when I write an essay I use the spellings I know. Marks get deducted for wrong spellings.
There’s a long pause after this. From the corner of my eye I notice him deeply in thought and am well aware that this is the ‘quiet before another question storm’. Me being at work and in need of silence has nothing to do with him.
As expected, he starts again in some time.
A Jr: Mamma, how do you know which word to see in the Dictionary?
Me: *trying to choose the right words* Um, while writing something I try and remember a word which goes perfectly with the meaning I want to convey through a sentence. I don’t use Dictionary every time, just for words that I often don’t use.
A Jr: *confused as well as excited* But Mamma, if I want to see, how will I know new words which I can find in the Dictionary?
Me: *pleased with his curiosity and the fact that I know the answer* That is simple, beta. You must read a lot, whether it is your course books, story books, your encyclopaedias or the newspaper. If you see or hear a new word, even in some cartoon or a movie you should try and find out what it means. You must be curious to explore and learn. Learning should never stop. See, I’m still learning too!
From the look on his face I knew my point had gone across to him. Ever since he was a kid I’ve tried to instill good reading habits in him and, if not a lot, I’m happy he does it by choice now.
I love that in his spare time he goes through his general knowledge books and encyclopaedia and asks me to explain whatever he doesn’t get on his own. I sincerely hope that his thirst for knowledge only grows with time.
Is it time for me to get him his first pocket Oxford Dictionary? ☺