It is a fact that we are not a nation of readers, with statistics showing that Singaporeans by and large shun reading, as they do not derive joy and pleasure from it ("Why read? For the sheer joy of it"; last Sunday).
While the Government has taken concrete initiatives to stimulate the reading habit among children and adults alike, more needs to be done before reading is truly valued for the tangible, as well as intangible, benefits it accrues to the beneficiaries.
With the ubiquitous spread of digital technology devices, book reading in general has taken a back seat in our quest for technological progress, better examination grades and monetary gains.
It must be recognised that millennial children are wired differently, to the extent that digital publications connect them readily and seamlessly.
Millennials have already learnt that reading is not the only way to get information.
There is, therefore, an urgent need for a multi-pronged approach, along with a changed mindset, with parents, educators, students, the community and the wider society working in unison to cultivate the reading habit, for pleasure, as well as for academic and monetary reasons.
As such habits begin at an early stage of life, the emphasis should begin with parents who can help their children build character and broaden their knowledge through the reading process.
Reading skills can then be further enhanced in school through various reading initiatives and programmes promoting voluntary reading through the print, as well as digital, medium.
Society can also contribute in several ways, such as through book sharing among neighbours.
We cannot ignore the fact that today's youth are far more likely to read a book on their phone or tablet than an actual printed book.
Hence, we need to take advantage of technology, instead of fight it.
Children need to be surrounded by books, in printed form or otherwise.
V. Subramaniam (Dr)