Reporter's take

Causes Week 2017: Sharing with others the joy - and benefits - of reading books

Over the course of this week, the sixth Straits Times Causes Week will share how various individuals and groups are making a difference through the causes they are passionate about.

Today, The Straits Times is spotlighting two causes related to literacy.

One Bag, One Book is a book-sharing initiative by Bangladeshi migrant worker and poet Zakir Hossain Khokan, and ReadAble is a literacy programme for pre-schoolers and primary school kids from the Chin Swee area.

One of the things that struck me about the One Bag, One Book initiative was how popular books of Bengali poetry and short stories are among the migrants.

Those who read them said they see these books as a source of comfort in a foreign land.

Reading can be a means to an end - a person might do it to get hold of practical knowledge, or to improve his grasp of a language to communicate better with others - and it can be for pleasure.

It requires discipline to go cover to cover, and time, but reading gives us room to ruminate and reflect - more vital than ever in this age of Twitter-shortened attention spans.

Few things can replace the experience of thumbing through a physical book and losing yourself in it.

Books, with their "lessons" in wisdom and empathy, can contain the power to inspire and change lives.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2017, with the headline Causes Week 2017: Sharing with others the joy - and benefits - of reading books. Subscribe