Creative ways to promote reading habit needed

The National Library Board is to be commended for introducing new initiatives to stem the decline of the reading habit, while making it a more pleasurable activity ("Get three books for free - if you promise to read"; last Thursday).

Similarly, our schools, The Straits Times and concerned citizens are emphasising the importance of the reading habit so that reading not only reaches the wider community, but also becomes a part of one's life.

The importance of reading cannot be overstated, as books are a mirror of society.

Over centuries, they have had a major impact on the development of society by shaping civilisations, political systems, thinking patterns, cultures and social norms. They have also given us a perspective of human experiences.

Besides, books stimulate our imagination, curiosity and creativity, thereby enriching our lives.

We must accept that children today are swamped with electronic images and massive amounts of information, even before they enter school.

The ubiquitous presence of electronic gadgets in a fast-evolving environment such as ours has made them see that reading is not the only way to get information, with the result that books have lost their importance.

Furthermore, adults and children alike want to consume content in a comfortable place at their own pace, and mobile devices make it easy and convenient to do so.

Given this state of affairs, it is imperative that user-friendly digital platforms and publications that offer text, pictures and videos be promoted widely to bolster the reading habit.

Such initiatives will not undermine the importance of reading printed books and other materials, like newspapers.

Teachers are a vital catalyst in sparking this habit among children. They should be encouraged to initiate schemes that encourage the younger ones to read for pleasure as well as to be informed of what is happening around them.

Newspapers, for example, carry models of clear and concise writing that can stand alone as teaching tools or supplement other instructional tools, such as the Internet.

These help teachers bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world by extending the boundaries of knowledge.

Bringing the reading habit to the street ("'Mini-Molly' mobile libraries a runaway hit"; June 11, 2015), into homes and into schools for pleasure as well as for knowledge is a remarkable way of creating greater cohesiveness and understanding in the community, while stimulating the reading habit.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 05, 2016, with the headline 'Creative ways to promote reading habit needed'. Print Edition | Subscribe