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Miles Away From Books!

By: Barira Faisal Khan

How many times would you have come across a young person with a book in his hand? Or how many young adults are spotted in libraries these days just for the purpose of reading? Unfortunately, the ratio of book reading by students and young adults is considerably low in Pakistan or if I say the trend of book reading has drastically gone down everywhere in the world and we are also affected badly. No doubt the young generation today is more techs savvy, smart and intelligent but the benefits of reading can never be ignored in this everyday changing digital world.

What intrigued me to pick up this issue for writing is when I came across a few young students holding a book in their hands and my first question to them was, how you are interested in book reading when others of your age are not or they would rather have a smartphone or tablet in their hand?. The answer was simple. That’s how we have been doing it since childhood and our parents were the one to put a book in our hand rather than a tablet or smartphone. This led me to think that the habit of book reading can still be inculcated in today’s world but it needs efforts by parents and teachers. Maybe parents are too busy today to develop the patience and stamina needed to attract their kids toward a book and on the other hand, a flashy, colorful and changing screen of the tablet is too easy to make their child busy and give them some relief.

The question still remains that why we need to read books when everything is available on search engines and it just takes a few seconds to dig it out. But remember ‘Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”(Neil Gaiman). So let me tell you the benefits of book reading that are too powerful to ignore. Whether its fiction, nonfiction, history, science, autobiography or any other genre you have picked up for yourself it improves your mind both psychologically and cognitively. If you are looking forward to improving your communication skills, book reading is the key. It improves your verbal abilities, gives you a better focus and concentration, leads to a better power of imagination, good memory, makes you smarter, interesting and attractive (trust me) and the utmost advantage is that it reduces stress. Studies have proven that even six minutes of reading slows down the heart rate and eases the tension in the muscles.

Not to be shy but there will be many among us who are alien to the habit of book reading. I would suggest it’s never too late to start something good. How? I am jotting down a few easy steps you need to take toward revamping your life. Have a look;

  1. Keep in hand. The first step is to keep a book with you all the time. Whether you are in the cafeteria, commuting to and fro from school/college/university, keep a book in your rucksack.
  2. Make it simple. Whenever you get time, just start reading it. Don’t wait for any special arrangement, time and space to start reading. The best time to read for those who have the long distance to cover each day is to read on the way if commuting through public transport or not a self-driven vehicle.
  3. Overcome the fear. Many times you would pick up a book and re-rack it as it is too long or perhaps the font is too small that you simply don’t have the courage to start it. The key is to start with short books with a relatively bigger font. Once the fear is gone, here you go!
  4. Read what you love. Always encourage yourself and your child to read books about subjects they love. Maybe your child always picks up a fairy tale, let her. In every book, there is a lesson to learn or even if nothing the art and illustrations help to improve creativity and imagination.
  5. When you are reading a book never forget to share and discuss it off and on with your friends, colleagues and family members. Share what you have learned. If your child is too young to discuss it himself, don’t forget to ask about the book and show your interest.
  6. Visit the library. Unfortunately, in Pakistan, most of the libraries are not providing a friendly environment to users. Most of them have too strict policies and an atmosphere boring enough to make you run away and never look back but remember “Bad libraries build collections, good libraries build services, great libraries build communities.” (R.David Lankes).
  7. Make it a routine. Visiting library every once in a week should be made a routine. Make your children confident and friendly with using libraries and help them in a selection of good books or the ones they like. Make them go through the issuing process; it will give them confidence and power to make decisions in life.
  8. Keep a check. Parents should keep a check on which book their child is reading. Its language, content and art, all play an important role in the making of your child’s personality.
  9. Make it interesting. For young children, there are many websites that offer reading and creating your own books activity i.e. storyjumper.com, mystorybook.com, storybird.com, storymaker.com and the list goes on. Let your child write whatever he wants and bring forward his creativity.
  10. Make notes. Never forget every book teaches us something. A book is an outcome of years of hard work and research put together by the author so don’t forget to take down the notes of parts that attract you the most. They will be an excellent source of communication for the rest of your life, your own personal collection of extracts.
  11. Stay consistent. No matter how much you are fed up with reading the book and you might want to put it back on the shelf but why not take it up as a challenge to finish it? Consistency is the key. Once you start, be sure to finish it off!
  12. Set Goals. Set realistic goals for yourself. One cannot be a fast reader, in the beginning, even if you are slow, make it sure to set a goal for yourself. Like you can start by reading two to three pages every day.
  13. Read classics. If you have no clue where to start from, start with reading classics. Discover how each generation of writer claims, owns and reinterprets the crucial facts of history for their own generation.
  14. Join the community. Attend book festivals and book launch events where you can meet like-minded people.
  15. My daughter aged 7 is quite good in writing down reviews in a scientific manner, though I remember writing my first review while doing my M.phil (that too as part of the assignment). Honesty apart, one has to learn to write down book reviews, they are going to serve you well in all sort of exams in your life.
  16. Enjoy! Every book is a journey, a story and an experience which ultimately opens up new horizons of creativity, imagination, and communication for you. Remember a nation that moves away from books and literature becomes spiritually dead. We need to revive the habit of book reading among ourselves and our young generation. So hold onto your book and enjoy the ride!

The writer is an RJ in FM 100 Pakistan. She can be reached at djbarira@gmail.com

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