Reinforcing the reading habit in children

Reinforcing the reading habit in children

When the habit of reading is fading due to television and internet, it is imperative for us to encourage children to read more, says Srijaya Char.

During our younger days, a majority of us tend to read fiction most of the time. As students, the academic load is so heavy and exhausting, that non-fiction does not interest many. Children who read heaps of comic books, joke books and story books are the ones that grow up into fun-loving, humour-loving adults. 

They tend to take life easy and do not become serious and uncompromising. Watching fun movies, animated cartoon movies and reading a lot of fiction, be it science fiction or romance, creates a kind of excitement that cannot be described. 

By reading books like Harry Potter that casts a spell for tolerance, Calvin and Hobbes comic strips that tell us about what goes on in a little boy’s mind, books of P G Wodehouse, Arthur Conan Doyle and other romantic Mills and Boon books, makes mind becoming capable of breaking down stereotypes and putting us in extended contact with the world outside. 

Researchers say that the brain that develops with a lot of literature benefits from extended contact and becomes more positive than negative. Whether children read English books or regional language books, matters very little. It is the entertainment and enjoyment that they gain out of it that is important.

We all know that newspaper articles which are considered non-fiction are also read with great interest even by the younger generation. Sometimes some of the news items also get fabricated to create curiosity and interest.  However, with the advent of TV and its programs, many things have changed.  
What are novels?

Ben Yagoda writes that he was taken aback recently when he picked up a magazine in which he had written an article, which called him a novelist. He protests that he is not a novelist and has never been one. When he went deep into it, he found out that “novel” does not mean just fiction. It is just a book and the writer of any book can be called a novelist. 

Frankly the word ‘novel’ has many meanings. It can be ‘different’, ‘innovative’, ‘strange’ or even ‘unique’. So a novelist can be either an ‘author’ a ‘writer’ or even a yarn spinner. Whether the book belongs to the genre of fiction or nonfiction, the writer can be called a novelist.

Nonfictions are not non-novels

Asking young adults to read nonfiction is to expose them to a bit of serious reading. There are certain books that can be called “nonfiction novels” as well. In such books the author uses techniques of fiction but the incidents that occur in the book could be factual. 

This trend is very speculative. May be this got “accelerated with the arrival and success of the “graphic novel” says Yagoda.  These types of novels have now become very popular and have become a thriving genre.

Reading of nonfiction needs many skills. We read it with an intention. If the author has made it interesting we continue reading to learn something. Some of the regional language authors’ life histories make very interesting reading, be it Hindi, Kannada, Tami, Malayalam or Telugu.
Education

There are various forms of fiction. There is what is called ‘Realistic fiction’ which could be untrue but could happen. Certain things in the book could be real that are made fictitious by the author. Non-realistic fiction is another category where the events in the story cannot happen in real life. 

Children love reading Alice in Wonderland J R R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, where one is a fairy tale and the other is a work of science fiction. If we try to examine semi-fiction, it is a fiction based on a true story where some of the accounts in the story could be fictionalised.

Fiction is read for pleasure and is generally read with excitement. We are eager to know the end of what happens to all the characters in the book, what happened to the protagonist, antagonist and others involved with them. 

It is advantageous for young adults to read all genres of books. That in itself is a kind of education which is more valuable than academic studies and degrees. It is wrong to believe that fiction is non-educative and non-fiction is educative. Many parents discourage their children from reading comics and fairy tales when they are young.

Frankly, reading itself is an all inclusive education. What one reads matters little. It is foolish to judge everything one reads. We all know that what is available in many fictitious books are not true. Even young adults know this. They know they are reading fiction and that they are worlds away from the books they are reading.

Stories of witches, fantasies, romance, love, anything and everything-the endless piles of fiction or non-fiction are the keys to happiness for the readers. Whether they make one happy or sad is immaterial. There is nothing more pleasurable than the habit of reading. Cultivate it and you will know the pleasure of it.

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