READING is very different from what we call as LITERATE. To make people literate is entirely different from making them a reader.
Making people literate is easy but to leave them with a passion to yearn for more is really very tough. Reading ignites imagination. It makes you believe in your dreams. It is really a true fact that one should carefully choose what they read, as it has the power to change their lives, either ways!
I remember my days of childhood which nurtured reading habits in me and my sibling. I wondered at that time why I don’t have many friends with whom I can share my excitement of Enid Blyton’s Mystery Series or Peter Pan’s tales. I always had a lack of companion to share my joy, excitement, or that sheer pleasure of reading a Chacha Chaudhary’s Comics. When grown up I realized, it is very much interconnected with the way we are brought up and the environment in which we are growing. From the beginning my father emphasized us to switch from Hindi to English books to make us comfortable with the language. Being my education carried on in a central government school throughout my life, I can now understand how much my reading habit has helped me to become accustomed with the language. Being a Bong (who are famous for their three habits ARTS-MUSIC-LITERATURE), I have seen my Uncles and Cousins who are seriously addicted to books. A large library with more than 1000 books at their place excites me till today! I can relate my childhood memories with solving cases with Sherlock or Poirot, or flying with Tinker Bell or just getting lost with Alice.
I find it very interesting when I read about facts about today’s youth’s reading habits. According to a nationwide survey commissioned by the National Book Trust (NBT) in 2012, three fourth of total literate youth in the country do not read books other than their textbooks, be it classics or best sellers. Only one fifth of the youth from the country’s rural areas are involved in reading books other than their textbooks. The study also reveals that youth from the north-eastern states have much better reading habits than those in other parts of the country. The most shocking is that only 9.2 per cent youth were found to be having leisure reading as their hobby.
Some more statistics about reading habits facts are as follows based on earlier surveys:
- 73% of the youth (13-35) population is literate (these accounts.
- 25% of young people read regularly
- Hindi is the most preferred language for leisure reading (33.4%), followed by Marathi (13.2%), Bengali (7.7%) and English (5.3%)
- 49% of young people with ‘graduate and above’ educated parents read leisure books.
- Only 17% of young people with illiterate parents read for pleasure.
It is very difficult to comprehend the reason behind this trend. Or, to tell what should exactly be done to inculcate the habit in young minds. This is a very big as well as complicated question. Making literate is not enough, but to develop the yearning- for -more- attitude is important.
One article by Angela Phillip of University of Papua New Guinea, quotes ‘Giving someone literacy skills is rather like teaching a person to drive and then giving them only a few drops of petrol to practice with – the machine is perfect and the driving skill has been acquired but it is not yet an automatic skill because there has not been enough practice. Once the fuel runs out the driving skill becomes useless and begins to deteriorate. Giving someone the reading habit, on the other hand, involves providing a continuous supply of easily processed fuel so that the new driver can go places, can get to enjoy driving and can eventually realize the limitless possibilities it opens up.’
This example eventually conveys what is required and at what level.
Samapika is an intern at Youth for Policy and Dialogue and can be reached at email@example.com