How reading can be encouraged among children and youth

Image depicting open books

READING – what’s the very first thing that comes to our mind on hearing this word? Being able to comprehend what a penman wants to convey? Or just having the flair to spell out a word precisely without delving deep into its message?

In taking into account either of these, we often tend to disregard the fact that reading is not as facile as it seems to be. There are tens of millions of people in the world, especially in developing countries like India where this fundamentally basic human right (more specifically education) is still considered to be a privilege.

Although the central authorities in many such nations have come up with several measures such as ensuring free and compulsory education for all till a certain age, providing meals at schools in socio-economically impoverished areas so as to encourage children to come to school and so on, but has it really helped in dissipating the problem of not having a structurally sound education system? The answer certainly isn’t affirmative!

Teachers and schools around the world are indeed regarded as torch-bearers of ending learning poverty, and therefore the very source of encouragement is in their hands. 

The first thing that teachers must do to ensure students, particularly ones in indigent countries, are able to read, is to preach the importance of reading to their parents. Children mostly tend to consider parents as their first idols and often end up imitating what the latter is up to. Once a child is encouraged to read not just in school but at home as well, an inclination towards the subject will develop and that will not take up long to turn into a habit. 

Children are definitely attracted towards write-ups accompanied by brightly colored photographs, and schools must look into including such texts (particularly the ones meant for pre-primary and primary class pupils). Also, endowing kids for being able to read and decipher an article accurately can boost up their enthusiasm towards reading. 

However, while ensuring that children must be able to read by the age of 10, we must also ensure that they love what they do rather than being forced to do it. Reading, a persuasive habit, must not be turned into worship. When enjoying the task that they perform, young minds tend to develop an instant affiliation towards it rather than when being coerced.

Another way to encourage children to read is to read along at times and trying to add humor to an otherwise seemingly monotonous passage while conveying it to them. Competing with children in reading a write-up and allowing them to be the font-runners will induce a sense of achievement in them and automatically persuade them to read more.

In the words of Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai, “One Child, one Teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”, ensuring a sound and peaceful learning experience for the future generations should not just be a goal for all nations but also one of the first steps towards sustainable development.