I have always encouraged my children to read. I don't mind much what they read, as long as they read. It may be a novel or a comic book as long as they get the habit of reading. This will hone their knowledge with the spoken word. They will not only learn correct grammar but even learn the nuances of the language through reading. This is important especially with our educational system where the medium of instruction is a language that is not their first tongue.
When my wife got pregnant with our first child, I was even contemplating on raising the child with english thinking she'll have an edge in school if she did. I ruled out the idea for several reasons. First, as non-native speakers of english, we are wont to commit mistakes and she just might pick these up. Secondly, not everybody in the house is adept with the language. There's the maid who will definitely massacre the language, there's the grandmother whose pronunciation of some words are far different from the correct way it is to be said. So too was I concerned about the neighbors, and most especially, the playmates. I wouldn't want my children to grow up without the benefit of having played with their contemporaries. Furthermore, the different language with which we are communicating with one another would confuse the child and may hamper her ability to talk at an early age. So, we opted to teach them the native language. It was easier for everybody that way.
True enough, they experienced some difficulty once they reached that age when they had to go to school. I could just imagine my children looking in awe at the teacher as she blabbered the lesson in an unknown tongue. During the time I was growing up, I remember my teachers urging us to speak only in English. We were collected a fine for every tagalog word spoken. I wonder if that is still being done today in some parochial schools. Not in the school where I work and where the children are studying, though.
Going back to reading. I was already becoming paranoid as it seems that none of my children will ever pick up the habit. It was a losing battle with the television and the computer. So, it came as a surprise when I saw my eldest son, Mickey, who was then about 11 years old, picking up a book and reading. It turned out he was to make a book report on the Iliad. So, picture this. I was trying to read my book while Mickey was reading his. Suddenly, I noticed he was looking blankly at the wall. I wondered what he was thinking. When he couldn't take it anymore, he asked, "Papa, ba't iyakin si Ulysses?" (Papa, why is Ulysses such a cry baby?) Puzzled, I said, "of course not! He's very very brave man!" "He couldn't be," said my son. "I always see this." As if to prove his point, Mickey showed me the passage he was reading. "Run to the ship!" Ulysses CRIED! Cute no?