EDUCATION PLUS

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Discover the joys of reading, an essential part of learning in this information age.

About a year ago, B. Ekbal, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kerala, had spoken about the decline in the reading habit in Kerala, highlighting a paradox in the most literate State. The annual per capita spend on books in the State was a dismal Rs. 20, he said, as against Rs. 4,000 on gold and Rs. 1,500 on liquor.

In this information age, no right-thinking society can afford a decline in the reading habit, a critical need for human development. Society has to promote reading for its own good because people who read widely can abjure a narrow-minded, parochial outlook.

Everyone needs to help bolster the culture of reading, starting with the parents. Bedtime stories and reading aloud is a great way to introduce toddlers to the wonderful world of books.

Not all parents will be fortunate enough to spend quality time with their children and some will not have the ability to read. Here the system should chip in.

Good read-aloud books and catalogues in English are available. Not so in the local languages. The language universities, such as the new Thunchathu Ezhuthachan Malayalam University, should take the initiative in that direction. The Anganvadis, the kindergartens and the lower primary schools should nurture in their students an interest in reading through a careful selection of interesting books to begin with and then slowly introducing the children to a wider, relevant content.

We need formal avenues in schools and colleges to foster the reading habit. Introduce dedicated reading hours in which the teacher can supply books and ask the students to spend an hour with one of their choice.

It will be more enlightening than any lecture.

Cut TV time

One of the greatest plus points of the reading habit is that students will spend less time watching television, which kills imagination and creativity and reduces the attention span.

Reading does the opposite as good books hold your attention.

Most youngsters these days have no clue about which career to choose. They do not know about many of the avenues open to them. Neither do most of the parents. This is the prime driver of the scramble for medical and engineering seats.

The dearth of options is a wrongly felt notion because people are ignorant of other worthwhile human pursuits.

Reading can help them know the unknown vicariously. Reading about the life of an executive, a manager, a social worker, a politician, a vocalist, an archaeologist, a scientist, an artist or a sportsman from fiction, commentaries, biographies and magazines can open a new avenue for the youngster.

Good reading skills — capability to read fast with comprehension, ability to make inferences from a passage, usage of contextual clues and so on — will come in handy during competitive examinations. Many students falter in the competitive arena because of poor comprehension.

A good reader will have a larger vocabulary, helping in better understanding the text and thereby academics and life.

Reading is one skill that can be cultivated with a concerted effort and the spark for this has to be kindled at a younger age.

Kishan Kumar V.L.

Co-founder,

Kengcyclopedia.com

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