K12 to STEM Career
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How reading has changed my life, and how it can change your kids life too!

If you’re experiencing this blog, then you already know the value of reading.  There is a lot of science & research that points to the benefits to IQ, imagination and learning capability.  I’m not going to waste your time reiterating data that supports a common sense fact.

Reading has perhaps been the single most important and consistent behavioral trait in my life and is undoubtedly responsible for any success I’ve had.  Since I can remember, my favorite hobby has been curling up with a book or a magazine.  I’m so addicted, that I”ll read anything, and pre-iPhone, I regularly did.  Back in the old days, I remember thumbing through ladies magazines at the doctor’s office… just to get my reading fix!  Some people play games on their iPhone or engage on social media. I read the NYT, Business Insider, Apple News, and books I’ve bought on the Kindle and Apple Bookstore.  Examples of how reading has changed my life include:

  • The Chronicles of Narnia and children fantasies by Roald Dahl expanded my mind like no drug can.
  • Life of Muhammad & a Man of God were two biographies that laid the foundation for my faith.
  •  I read over 30 presidential biographies in my junior and senior year of high school because I was so fascinated by what type of character it takes to be the American president.
  • Learning how to be exceptional at interviewing (using books from the library) helped me nail the interview at Apple.
  • Business books have helped me become a better professional and leader.  The book Good to Great has been hugely influential in helping me set a vision for my organization in Apple.
  • Helping me relax.  Reading calms my mind and helps me get ready for bed.  I’m so addicted to reading that no matter what time it is, I’ll always take 15 minutes to read before I go to bed.

As you can tell, this is deeply personal for me, and as parents, instilling the joys of reading into our children was a top priority.

It is with great pleasure I can proudly say that both Rizwan & Khadija are addicted to reading like Rabia & I.  Rizwan is enjoying the Percy Jackson books so much, he literally rejected the chance to play the new Mario Oddysey on the Nintendo Switch this afternoon, because he was in the mood to lie on his back and read.  Khadija’s birthday was a few days ago, and she’s received many gifts from her classmates.  The one that she is most excited about is a book called “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls.”  She’s been educating us about Amna Al Haddad, a UAE weightlifter who is a pioneer in her sport.  She also loves the Judy Moody series and the Smile & Sister series.

Child finding magic by reading a book

Here is what we did as parents to instill this love of reading.

  1. Around 4-5 years of age, I taught my kids to read using this book.  Every day we’d complete a new lesson.  It was remarkable to see how quickly they developed.  I think I was more excited then they were by the whole process.
  2. Most nights, I read to my kids before bed.  Frankly, I’m not as frequent as I should be, but regardless, I’m happy that it’s become a tradition.  The three of us get into bed together, and I’ll read out loud.  As Khadija’s got older, we’ve graduated to chapter books.  We’re reading the first Harry Potter right now.  Fathers, if you’re reading this blog, I highly suggest you step up and take this responsibility.  Mom’s already got enough to do, so this is the least you can do. Plus, there is no better feeling they lying in bed, with your kid’s head on your chest, as you discover a new story together.  I guarantee you that over time, your kids will love this bonding time so much, you can use it to get them to bed on time.  When my kids don’t go to sleep on time, there is no story time!  It is incredible how quickly they learn to self-manage and get ready for bed so that they can get their story.
  3. Walk to our library on most Saturdays.  The library is such an undervalued asset!  We’ve made it part of our lives to regularly walk to the local library, and read for an hour.  There is something for everyone at the library (magazines, DVDs, audiobooks, fiction, non-fiction, cds, e-books..wow).
  4. Walk the walk.  Rabia and I are regularly reading.  We are proud addicts.
  5. Stop trying to force my favorite books on my kids.  It never works.  I unsuccessfully tried this with music, and now my kids will probably hate Bob Dylan for life 🙁

Make it a priority today to read to your child every night before bed, and visit the library once a week.  Trust me, its one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.

About the Author Iftikhar Khan

With over 16 years of Operations Leadership at Apple, Iftikhar has had pivotal roles in launching the iPod, iPhone, iPad & Apple Watch. In late 2017, he launched k12toSTEMCareer.com with the goal of becoming a better parent to his children, Rizwan and Khadija. Today, over 1214 people follow Iftikhar's writings around STEM & Parenting. Read Iftikhar's personal story about his journey from an Introvert to a Director at Apple.

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