A new term began, and once again, a fresh lot started their new yet another virtual learning journey with me. Interestingly, this time around, I found some students who like to read books and are even interested in sharing their reviews during the class. You guys must be wondering why I am expressing such joy upon knowing that my students read books. According to a survey conducted in 2019 by Gallup and Gillani Pakistan, 3 out of 4 Pakistani students (75%) have never read any book at all except their course curriculum books. The average, only 9% of students are keen readers. The question is why, over the years, reading culture has drastically declined in our country, especially among teens? The definitive answers may be over-dependency on electronic and social media etc. But why one wanting to develop such habits when the majority of the world is now technology dependent. Does reading books is now becoming an ‘obsolete culture’? What role does a reading habit play in a time where people are bound to keep themselves physically distant?
Researchers believe that children who do not develop reading habits in their first five years have a vocabulary deficit of up to a million words. Reading helps adolescents to understand better concepts like cause and effect, which leads to better decision-making. It also improves their overall academic performance and logical thinking skills.
In a Time of Crisis
It is estimated that students have lost two and half months of instructional time since the global pandemic outbreak in 2020. Although most rely on virtual classrooms, many have no access to instructions at all. In this situation, ‘reading to children and ensuring that children continue to read’ may be one of the healthy solutions to minimize this instructional gap.
In a Time of Isolation
Another study suggests that 30 minutes of reading can help lower one’s heart rate and blood pressure and reduce psychological distress. The act of reading can transport us to new dimensions. This process can help mitigate feelings of isolation and estrangement, which are mainly present during social distancing.
The Point of No Return Situation
It is equally essential to know that socio-economic challenges during the crisis create a barrier between some students and their access to necessary technological, educational, or financial resources. Consequently, these students will be least likely to return to schools once they reopen, which will only fuel the cycle of socio-economic hardship. Developing reading habits and providing educational support to the deprived ones can make a promising difference in these challenging times.
How To Get into This Awesome Habit?
- The very first step is to get access to a BOOK – physically or electronically. In the era of virtual realism, books are now readily available digitally. In India, the Read to Kids mobile reading program reached more than 203,000 families and launched a reading practice in households with no children’s books.
- Teachers can also promote this idea by hosting a Book Club during the classroom. I usually conduct a 10 to 12 mins session before the classroom where a student who read any book in the past three weeks and wants to share their review can lead the session. The Book can be of any genre.
- Parents can also make a massive difference in the development of this habit in their kids. Help your kids find their first Book without diving into the facts like reading levels or genre requirements. However, once they develop the practice, helps them to try new genre as well.
- Another excellent idea for parents is to read the Book to them. Reading out loud not only model voice and expression but it also models a love of good books.
- Create a reading space in your home where kids can read without any outside disturbance.
A Book is yet another realm where a reader does not need to be forced to believe anything. It’s an ocean of imagination where one can dive as deep as one can, only to find the jewels of wisdom and intellect.