An article in The Hindu caught my eye – it talked about A joint project initiated after a study of reading habits by the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and the Directorate of Elementary Education to enroll over 5.94 lakh school students studying Standards I to VIII in libraries. The Project has been launched to commemorate World Book Day (celebrated by UNESCO on the 23rd of April to promote good reading habits).
Students would be encouraged to go to the library once a week during school hours, as a part of this project. Deccan ran a similar story on ‘Poor reading habits of the youth today’ sometime back. The survey undertaken by the National Book Trust noted that only one-fourth (25 percent) of the literate youth at the all-India level, read books other than textbooks,”. ‘Other than textbooks’…….. took me back to my childhood days when I would hide a famous five in between my textbooks or read with a torch under a blanket late into the night.
It was not just a hobby for me but a technique to improve my grammar and learn new words, an escape from an otherwise confined sphere to a new world with no limitations. I guess that was one of the advantages of belonging to the no multimedia, television, online games, internet, and Facebook age. you had all the time in the world and no distractions.
But today I am quite thankful for that bore-you-to-death boredom for it led me to meet my oldest companion and first love. I found out that reading opened my mind to new ideas, new thoughts, new characters, and new ways of looking at things and gave me the knowledge to judge, to know the good from the bad, the right from the wrong. It instilled in me the most valuable and sought-after (in today’s times) virtue of Patience for you need loads of it to be a successful reader.
“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading.”
― William Styron, Conversations with William Styron
Popular television talk show host Oprah Winfrey is an avid reader and to patronize her love for reading, she started her own book club in 1996, selecting a new book, usually a novel, for viewers to read and discuss each month. Oprah’s Book Club spawned new interest in reading discussion groups and rocketed every selection to the top of bestseller lists.
Today she is considered one of the most influential celebrities who had the most impact on the reading habits of Americans. She attributes her love for books to her father and stepmother who encouraged her to start reading at the age of 3.
Subroto Bagchi, co-founder of Mindtree Ltd in his book ‘Go Kiss the World’ credits his language skills to the daily reading habit of the Statesman which he would read out loud to his father every day. These people are leaders in their field today but leadership thrives on a balanced thought process, experience and knowledge, knowledge in turn is the virtue of the well-versed and the well-read. Books foster imagination and make us see opportunities beyond our realm.
They infuse in us the power to question, to be curious, and most of all to dream. Frequent readers are exceptional thinkers and speakers since reading hones our personality and also aids our minds in thinking better. Books were my path to personal freedom…Winfrey said in an interview.
If there is one thing we need to learn from the Western world then it would be their love for books. You may not find an internet cafe but you will surely be able to spot a bookstore at every 2nd street and in case you couldn’t you could always go to the friendly local grocery shops and take your pick from their tiny bestseller section for books and magazines.
So go on grab that book that has been adorning your side shelf for ages waiting for you to pick it up and poke your nose into it. Who knows you might find a new friend today:).