When we start searching for quotations or articles on the necessity and importance of studying books, we find thousands such. Speeches have been given in various conferences and seminars regarding the importance of erudition in our lives. But still, studying books has become an abandoned habit in our society. Most people among us, especially our youths, consider reading to be a boring task. It seems that nowadays people have lost the literary taste and are detouring away from books. We constantly see that with every passing day our kids are losing interest in reading and they mostly remain busy with TV, internet and mobile phones. Our younger generation is spending most of their time on social sites like WhatsApp and Facebook. Another reason for detachment from exploring the literary world is the tight schedule of schools, home work, tuitions etc. After all these things our children find little or no time for studying other books and literature beyond their prescribed syllabus.
Before proceeding further, an important question to ask is what does studying in its real sense mean? What does it signify? Most of the parents are satisfied that their children go to school regularly, complete their homework, prepare for examinations, memorise the answers and finally clear their examination with good grades. For such parents, this all is what we can call as the process of studying. But in actuality, this is only a part of studying and not erudition. There is a broad and vast world of literature beyond the prescribed books in our educational institutions. Nowadays the trend of getting maximum marks in examinations has restricted our children to tuitions, tests and short notes only. The students have even lost the habit of reading their curricular books. The mechanical teaching-learning process in schools has also kept the students away from the world of books.
When we look at the developed countries of the world, we find that people there still possess a good literary taste and are fond of reading books. It has been found that even in the present digital technology world, 64% people in America read printed books while as 28% read digital books. In 2017, almost 80% readers in America were people in the age group of 18 to 29 years. About 30 % people in America read books daily while 25% people read a book once in a week. It is difficult to compile data regarding the habit of reading among Muslims, but from observations it has been found that the situation is not very satisfactory. One of the major reasons for the decline of the Muslim ummah is that we have lost the fervour of learning.
The dream of a majestic and elegant future of a nation depends on its passion and enthusiasm for knowledge. Knowledge is nothing but the love for learning. When we talk about a bright and prosperous future for a nation, it is imperative to think about its children and how to develop the habit of studying among them. Let’s contemplate some ways and methods in which we can develop the literary taste among our children.
It is the duty of parents to create a conducive environment for learning in their homes. We know that a person is moulded by the environment in which he or she lives but unfortunately the atmosphere in our houses is least facilitative for studying. First of all there should be enough number of books in our houses, though nowadays the most popular thing in our houses is TV sets and mobile phones. It is necessary to replace these screens with the pages of books. There should be a small collection of books in every house and a particular time for reading should be set aside to replace the futile watching of TV programmes.
It has been found that people stop reading a book if they find it difficult to understand the book. So, it is advisable to help such people in understanding the book. We should help them with learning new words, idioms and phrases. In the initial stage, children should be introduced to colourful books that have a lot of pictures in them, so that the habit of book reading becomes an interesting task.
It is also necessary to make book purchasing a regular habit. We should spare some money every month for purchasing some books. Most of us spend money on wasteful activities which are rather harmful for us in the long run. We should divert that amount for buying books. Parents should develop a sense in their children for saving some amount from their pocket money for purchasing books. Giving books as gifts to people on special occasions can be a step forward in this direction. Different social and religious organisations should create a system of reading rooms and libraries in areas where people are unable to access books of their choice.
Persuasion and encouragement acts as a catalyst in every work. People can be persuaded towards reading by the organising of seminars, competitions, etc. Children should be awarded suitably for reading a book and qualifying quiz competitions regarding various books. Incentives for reading and awarding of prizes should be a culture in our educational institutions.
It is as necessary to visit libraries to inculcate the habit of reading. Parents can introduce their children to the world of books in libraries, but unfortunately there are no libraries in our villages. We can, however, take our children to libraries in towns during holidays so that they may develop an interest towards books.
There has been a custom of organising book fairs in big cities by different publishers. Besides helping us in purchasing a variety of books, such fairs develop an interest towards books. The government should help publishers and other stakeholders to organise such book fairs in rural areas also to help people there develop a literary taste.
Besides the above, there can be many more practical ways to motivate people, especially our youngsters, to read books. As has been said, where there is a will, there is a way.
—The writer teaches Geography at GDC, Kulgam. [email protected]