Few days back, I ordered some books online for my daughter. Since I have been an avid reader since my childhood, I am trying my best to inculcate the book reading habits in my daughter. She loves to read and listen to bed time stories every night. She has her own little collection of readers and that’s why whenever I find any good book, I buy for her. I told a friend of mine about an online store having huge collection of books and asked her to buy for her kids too. Her reaction left me astounded.” Why would I spend so much money on just books?” she said. “They have laptop and tablet and can read and listen to as much stories as they want. I didn’t argue but this typical approach which is very prevalent these days always makes me concerned.
Book reading is a dying culture now and unfortunately all the electronic gadgets especially smart phones and tablets are to be blamed for this. I remember my childhood days when just the smell of new books used to make us excited. These days one can hardly find book nuts around. Very few people realize the importance of this habit and think it has no value.
Reading a book opens your horizon and takes you to another world where you imagine and create impossibilities with open eyes. It is like taking a journey and escaping from the real world without ever leaving your chair. Books have the capability to shape the destinies of both individuals and nations. Writers and poets always have a special role to play in nation building. They let people think and consider different possibilities and give them hope and positivity. During Indo Pak partition, writers, Sufis and poets played a vital role in developing hope and courage among masses.
In the recent times, our mental capabilities got handicapped by the electronic gadgets exactly the way our health got affected by junk food. We don’t want to read anymore. We are happily addicted to these smart phones where small world of social media has already snatched our privacy and real life connections.
Austin Phelps once said: “Wear the old coat and read the new book.” Unfortunately we as a nation are doing the exact opposite. The recent black Friday sales were a big hit among masses but only in terms of clothing and other household items. Book exhibitions (commonly known as kitaab mela) in our country are void of people even with 50 percent off on books. Same is the case with libraries. Very few people think and consider libraries as book heaven. Jerry Seinfeld said: “A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” That means the thinking process has slowed down already. Traditional bookselling has been hit hard by e-books. Internet has radically changed people’s reading habits. Newspapers also got replaced by e newspapers. There are people who still read though online but their percentage is also declining with every passing day.
Sadly our society has turned into a non reading society and our changing values and education system might be blamed for this. Our current education system just focuses on the syllabus and cramming of the written text. There is no room for creative abilities and imagination. There is a dire need to restructure our education system which focuses on developing mental abilities and imaginative power of students. Our media can play a pivotal role in regenerating the dead culture of book reading. More book festivals and literary galas should be held nationwide.
The dilemma is most of the people know the renowned showbiz celebrities but hardly a few know the famous writers or columnists. We desperately need to inculcate this habit especially in our children because they would become our youth tomorrow and we don’t want to see our youth chained to their smart phones. We want them to learn, discover and create new impossibilities and that cannot happen without reading books.
The issue is that most of the parents neither read themselves nor tell stories to their children. The smart phone or laptop is that magic pill which keeps children busy all the time and keep parents fuss free too. We need to realize its consequences.
Book reading is turning into “once upon a time“culture and it needs to be revived. We hardly find bookworms these days and we definitely don’t want this term to get replaced by internet junkie. A child who reads will be an adult who thinks because reading does make a difference. Let’s read for it has done wonders and because it could change your life.