Soha Ali Khan has been wonderfully candid about her parenting journey with his daughter Inaya. With her husband Kunal Kemmu, Soha often shares information about her learnings and her journey as a parent. Soha has an instinctive approach to parenthood and engages in multiple activities with her daughter. And reading is surely a priority in how the parent duo bond with their four-and-a-half-year-old. “Reading is definitely encouraged in our house. This is done by leaving lots of books around her, within her reach. She knows how to read, turn images, invent her own stories. And now that there are also simple books for beginners, she is starting to mix up the words and read the words on her own,” Soha explained.
The couple recently launched their new co-authored book “Inni and Bobo,” which is “a simple yet heartfelt story about a young girl and her adventure with a young adopted puppy,” Soha said. At the recent opening of Crossword Bookstores 2.0 at Kemp Corner, the couple launched their book in front of a large audience.
In exclusive interaction with express parenting, Soha Ali Khan talks about the new book, the importance of developing a reading habit in childrenfinding a balance between technology and reading habits, and more.
Congratulations on the release of your new book! What is the inspiration behind the Inni & Bobo series?
The inspiration was really because our daughter, who is four and a half, has loved having us read to her since birth. It’s a habit we’ve definitely encouraged. She is now beginning to read a little herself and mix up the words, but she will always pull out a lot of books and ask one of us to read to her, especially at bedtime. I used to read books to him and Kunal used to make up stories and ask him to really contribute to his development, telling him to imagine the main characters. Often, Inaya wanted her to be at the center of the story. And that’s how he told her the story of Inni and Bobbo. We thought it would be nice to have a visual reference when we tell her the story because she wanted to know, “What does Bobo look like? “, “Can I see pictures of the adoption center? etc We thought that instead of printing a book just for her, we could write it and share it with the rest of the world.
How would you describe the narration of your book? Would this help young readers?
It’s a simple but heartfelt story about a young girl and her adventure with an adopted puppy. It is essentially about empathy and love for animals and people, inclusion, kindness and diversity. It would basically be a book that parents and grandparents would read to their children, or you could read it at school. It is a book that is read aloud to an age group of two to six years old. Children can also read it by themselves.
The book deals with concerns such as animal welfare and adoption. Do you hope to achieve anything in terms of larger social changes?
There was no deliberate program to write a book about adoption. Our daughter is very passionate about animals and often prefers stories where the animal wins in the end. I told her with a laugh that ‘Red Riding Hood is actually a tragedy because the wolf is hungry at the end’ and she was so upset by that. We often told him stories where the animals are central to the story and it was just a natural result of that. Our first book is also about animals. He is so dear to us as a couple and to our daughter as a family. In our family and in the extended family, we have been surrounded by animals. The idea of adoption was close to our hearts. Kunal and I are both board members of an NGO that rescues and shelters kittens, puppies, cats and dogs in Mumbai, as well as other animal care NGOs.
In terms of what we hope to accomplish, the book was written to be engaging. We used to watch Inaaya and how she was engaged in the emotion and the story of the book. It can hold kids’ attention for 10 minutes, which is quite a challenge for young parents as they learn things like empathy, inclusion and love for animals that don’t have a home. their.
What other learning activities do you enjoy with your daughter?
I read her three stories before going to bed. It’s a kind of ritual and then a lot of other learning activities that we do together like painting, writing… I encourage him to write letters to his grandparents, we also post them in Delhi. My mother, too, responds to Inaaya. It could be around Christmas time, when someone isn’t feeling well, or sending handmade birthday cards. She is also learning other languages like Hindi and Spanish. She has been doing gymnastics for some time and is very interested in learning ballet. We have a lot for her even outside of school. If it is possible to open these opportunities to your child without taxing them and without stretching yourself, then why not?
What activities related to reading and learning do you do with your daughter?
Even when we drive away, she likes to read signs, billboards and store names. She is trying to read a brochure. You need to build their confidence and motivate them all the time. There’s something like the Bob Book Collection that’s great for beginners. Of course, I read to her all the time, but I keep them within reach so she can read them herself anytime. Reading any type of book expands vocabulary and imagination. We appreciate non-childish conversation. We have long, meaningful conversations where I encourage him to think about things. Sometimes people ask me how to engage a child during a flight. We have screen and meal times but it’s important to chat with them, have a meaningful conversation, listen to them and give them the chance to answer a few questions.
In terms of parenthood, in your opinion, what benefits could be derived from introducing a young child to reading?
There are many benefits — they can get involved. As a child, I was immersed in books. Love for literature and reading helps you express yourself, learn morals and other lessons. For example, if you want your child to learn how to brush their teeth, there is a fun character that can help them learn more about themselves, learn healthy eating habits and many more than literature and books help achieve.
What do you think of audiobooks as a format?
I like audio books because my child does not read by himself. And for long literature like Harry Potter, it’s sometimes exhausting to read for an hour and sometimes you don’t have time, or you’ve been sick. This is where you turn to audiobooks. She can pause at any time and ask about something and that’s wonderful. There are many books that I have downloaded to my phone and the devices that I play for her.
That said, I wouldn’t want audiobooks to replace books. Because I think there’s a lot to be said for discipline when it comes to books, turning pages, touching words with your fingers, especially when learning to read.
How do you strike a balance between introducing your daughter to the latest technology while encouraging reading habits?
Children are fascinated by technology and certainly by the television screen. And the audiovisual media are certainly powerful and entertaining, we are victims of it in many ways. If you can draw healthy boundaries as a parent, that’s important because we’re all guilty of binge-watching. And parents are role models for children; if you’re on screen, the kids tend to be there, whereas if you’re reading a physical book or listening to a podcast, they want to be there too. Sometimes when my daughter doesn’t want to do something, I tell her my coach is coming and I don’t want to do my workout but I have to. So if sometimes she doesn’t want to go to boot camp, she goes anyway because she sees me doing the same thing, maintaining self-discipline.
And of course balance is important, I don’t deny his screen time. It can relax, engage and entertain you. There is so much wonderful content out there. So, give him some screen time that you have regulated.
Also, one of the things we track is the lack of screen time during meals as well as near bedtime.
What can we expect from the rest of the Inni & Bobo series?
We have written the second, in addition to the skeleton of the third. We really feel the potential is limitless in terms of the adventure that these two main characters Inni and Bobbo can go on because there is so much of it. Even the most mundane thing can become incredibly interesting. The idea is simply to write down as many as possible and share them with people who are interested and invested in the beautiful relationship this little girl and her pup share.
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