For as far back as I can remember, books have been a part of my life and I was never aware that certain types of books were set aside for certain age groups. I read whatever I could lay my hands on and I must say that the habit stayed with me. Today I’m reading ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Adichie, but I could be just as happy reading the simple renderings of Mulk Raj Anand or a copy of the local daily. It also helped tremendously that I was surrounded by people who loved the written word as much as I did. I have a mother who is a passionate reader, a father who religiously reads the news papers from cover to cover and teachers and friends who inspired me to delve into a new world every chance I got.
Nowadays and in my line of work, I hear the following statement ever so often.
‘My son just doesn’t like to read. Please help me make him!’
I have come to believe that the only reason that a boy doesn’t like to read is because he has yet to be exposed to an author’s voice that he completely identifies with at his own age. For me it was Earl Stanley Gardener who’s iconic detective Perry Mason had me hooked like no other. Gradually I developed a love and an interest for different kinds of books and various other genres.
Boys need to be given a wide range of choices when it comes to reading. Again, as stated before, most boys are yet to uncover an author’s voice that completely, echoes their own thoughts. Boys need to be served up a huge buffet of books, not just a few titles that just happen to be the popular best sellers of the time.
To spark an interest in a young boy can be a monumental task. It is tough in today’s educational environment and educators can’t help boys all on their own. A huge collective effort is needed. Parents, family members, friends, senior pupils all need to come together to create and nurture an atmosphere both at home and at schools where children can take time out to read for pleasure and to derive joy from books and authors that appeal to them.
I look at some adults today and it breaks my heart that their love of learning has flickered and gone out. The educational qualifications and the certificates on the wall are almost like a seal of completion. They’re done learning, done being curious, done wanting to know. Their intellectual interest is satisfied – some continue to read for pleasure while most of them never read a book again.
Now, more than ever – we need to teach our kids that intellectual interest does not end when you leave school or graduate from university. Intellectual curiosity, if someone has it, won’t stop there. There is no excuse to quit learning, ever.
There are so many genres of books being published today. Horror, teenage romances, mysteries, courtroom dramas, fiction, non-fiction and even a new genre – Vampires! It is so important that adults take their children and together find the kinds of books that resonate with the young. Once they’re hooked, I believe they will be hooked for life. I also feel that having family members to share a special habit with, can go a long way in sustaining an interest such as reading. There are certainly enough writers out there; we just need to nurture a generation of readers.