“The surfeit of bookshops and books around does not mean that reading is ‘well.' It is important to engage with the book with all your sensibilities, and critical faculties alert, and not reduce reading to a token exercise,” according to Sashi Kumar, Chairman, Media Development Foundation.
He was participating in a panel discussion on Saturday on how alive and well reading is today. Earlier, he launched the seventh edition of Gul Mohar, a literature-based course for schools, at the function attended by many school teachers, principals, educators and academics.
Mr. Sashi Kumar said that the tyranny of ratings had narrowed down the reading list to best-sellers as the most branded rule the roost today. While reading was certainly alive, wholesome reading - reading of a discerning kind - is what is required, he added.
The other panelists included S.S. Nathan, CEO, BVM Global, Vasantha Balasubramanian, Principal, D.A.V. Matriculation Higher Secondary School and Anushka Ravishankar, award-winning children's author. The discussion was moderated by V. Saraswathi, English Language Teaching scholar.
Topics such as the responsibility of teachers and parents in inculcating healthy reading habits in children, books not finding place in many homes, maintaining some sort of 'quality filters' in reading and the virtues of reading books over reading online material were discussed.
Explaining the seventh edition of Gul Mohar as a package that includes readers, workbooks, audio CDs, and multimedia support, Vani Vasudevan, publisher, ELT, Orient Black Swan, said the product with its contemporary features would not only help teachers in making children learn the language in many ways but will also help evaluate them.
The concept behind Gul Mohar, ELT director Usha Aroor said, was to capture what it is like to grow up in India and help children relate to textbooks. Sudha Suresh, Principal (Primary) Bala Vidya Mandir said: “We, as teachers, hate moralising in class because it makes us unpopular." It always helps to have textbooks that send across the message even as the chapters are being taught, she added.
Orient Longman Regional Manager (Chennai) K. A. Roymon participated in the function.