Irish writer and politician Richard Steele's words, "Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body", certainly hold relevance as the habit of reading enriches one's mind and infuse good values.
However, experts in the field of education and literature feel children nowadays are going away from books and are seen glued to social networking websites and other modes of communication.
In a conversation with experts, HT tried to underline the importance of reading and ways to inculcate the habit.
Parambir Kaur, a Punjabi and English writer, who writes short stories for children, say, "No doubt, internet and modern technology has captivated children but nothing can be better than books when it comes to having in-depth knowledge about a topic or a subject. Books sharpen your mind, thus improve your thought process. To encourage students to read books, efforts are needed on both home as well as educational institution level."
NS Tasneem, a retired English professor, and Nirmal Singh, founder of Majha Punjabi Saath, an organisation that aims to foster Punjabi culture, concede the views of Kaur.
Tasneem says, "The fault also lies with parents, as not many of them have passion for reading. The environment at home very much influences the habits of a child. While I was growing up, I always used to have book in my hand. This habit automatically encouraged me to read more. So parents are more to be blamed for the current situation and need to adopt the culture of reading first."
Singh said that parents should fix reading hours for their child and take them to libraries, book shops and other literary events. "We should gift books instead of expensive phones or other electronic gadgets to a child," said Singh.
Role of educational institutions
MS Kang, former vice-chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, said, "In many developed countries, since the start of their schooling, children are taught to read more and more. Parents are suggested to buy different books for them during holidays. We also should imitate this thing in our country."
Swaranjeet Singh, president, Young Writers Association (YWA), PAU, added, "Though some schools have started prescribing different books during holidays, a lot more is needed to be done. During parent-teacher meetings, parents should be told to discourage children from contentiously watching TV or surfing internet."