The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The hidden price of giftedness: books

It is expensive being the parent of a gifted child. It is even more expensive when there are several of them - in my case, three.

It is a truism that all children read books, but it would also be true to say that gifted children like to read more of them. As a teenager of thirteen and fourteen, I used to read a book a day. Without fail I would begin to read a book once I got home, after my homework, and I would continue to read until I had finished it. If I was fortunate, this was in the early hours of the morning and gave me time to get some sleep, but for longer books, I would finish as my family rose to get ready for school. On such nights, I didn't sleep at all, such was my love of reading. Growth hormone is released as one sleeps, so perhaps that is one reason why, though relatively tall by most standards, (just shy of six foot) I am the shortest male in my family: I simply didn't sleep much in my prime growth years!

Yesterday, we went to Kinokuniya, a Japanese bookshop on Orchard Road, with all three of our children. The plan was for them to browse through the books, make some choices and for all of us to leave happily laden with books.

Kinokuniya is, I would say, the largest bookshop in Singapore. It is much larger than the only Borders present. The question is, why isn't a European or American book chain providing the best offering in Singapore? I recall some marvellous bookshops in London...none of them are here: only Borders shows a presence with a modest store on Orchard Road that is a little too small to stock the greatest range. Kinokuniya, on the other hand, has 500,000 titles available in five languages.

Each of my children is different. Each has a liking for a different kind of book - and this is not just a matter of age. Ainan's books are of little interest to Fintan and Fintan's would be of little interest to Tiarnan - so I can't just pass the books down: new ones must be bought for each of my little readers.

I used to love bookshops more before I became a parent. Now, when it comes to the counter and we have a pile of books I am aware of something that was less of a concern when I was only buying for one: "sticker shock". Aren't books expensive these days? One of Ainan's books cost 50 dollars - and the total was hundreds of dollars for a few books, after Privileged Member "discount".

I don't know how much it will cost to raise my three sons, in terms of books bought, but I must be careful to remember my own childhood. I have about a thousand books in my childhood home collection. Should my three children require that number each, we will have three thousand, in total: multiply that by the (rising) cost of a book and it comes to a pretty impressive sum. Even that total assumes I don't have more children...which I probably will (given the yet to be won co-operation of my wife!).

Happy reading all.

(If you would like to read more of my gifted children: Ainan Celeste Cawley, seven years and two months, a scientific child prodigy, Fintan, three and Tiarnan, twelve months, please go to: I also write of gifted education, intelligence, IQ, child genius, adult genius, baby genius, child prodigy, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:29 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heres something that might save you some money. They put a collection of copyright expired books online for free. Its called Project Gutenberg:

Commercial E-books may tend to be cheaper than regular books.

You can buy used books through (and Im sure other places, like probably Ebay, or other online bookstores, or used book stores in real life) and those used books are much cheaper than the regular price.

You can use Google book search to find a specific line in a book. If looking up bits of info is why you keep them around, you may not need to anymore. You could potentially sell your books when you are done, in order to retain a bit of money for new books. Knowing that you can buy them back or borrow them again in the future if you need to might help you let them go...

I dont know whether you have libraries in Singapore, but where I live I can get acess not only to my town library, but the libraries of other towns nearby, and the county college library (Even though I dont attend there). Its not hard to get access to those, for me.

I also wonder if joining a book club might give you opportunities to meet people who have large collections of books - you could borrow eachother's books and save money that way.

- Kathy

2:29 PM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thanks Kathy for your suggestions. As ever you are resourceful and knowledgeable of what is available out there. You must have done a lot of hunting around yourself in the past.

Project Gutenberg, in particular, should be of great help to many people.

Best wishes

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love reading. most of the time, i will be with my laptop,reading from there.i dunno why some of people hate reading. somehow, it makes me hurt when they said book is boring.

7:28 PM  

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