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Building readers of the future

Shihab Sarkar | Published: October 26, 2019 21:22:14


One wishes the meritorious children receiving books as prizes in different competitions pick the habit of reading, and become compulsive readers in their later lives. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen. The organisers behind these competitions or events choose books as a prize item out of pious intention. They certainly believe children awarded with books feel happier than those given fancy items. Unfortunately, it doesn't happen nowadays.

Excellently performing adolescent boys and girls do receive the books from illustrious guests. With the prize-giving ceremony over, they along with the organisers and the guests pose for group photos with the ribbon-tied books clutched to their bosoms.

However, there are delightful aspects of the episode. Among the award-recipients, there are a handful of them who feel elated on being presented with books after successfully participating in a competition. After receiving books by their favourite authors on the concluding day of book reading competitions across the country, many children are found getting engrossed in the books at the very venues. The scene makes one feel upbeat. That in these days of smart phones and myriad online entertainments, a section of children seriously care for books is itself a hearty spectacle. Watching scenes like this fills one with a unique type of hope --- time is yet to arrive for losing hope in our teenagers poised to emerge as compulsive readers.

Few people crossing 30 are seen resort to reading for pleasure. The habit of reading normally starts during adolescence. It's this critical age when a boy or a girl finds himself or herself standing at the gateway to many aesthetic wonders. Reading is one of them.

In the past, a number of students at schools' primary and secondary stages would be found being filled with a transcendental pleasure with new textbooks in hand. The books were nothing unearthly, and were far from being unreachable. They would appear in the form of just new books, especially the Bangla textbooks.

Understandably, those school textbooks were compiled and edited by genuine academic experts, and those who understood child psychology. Pieces by writers specialising in juvenile literature would comprise a large segment of contributors of these books. The emphasis was on clean, interesting tales. The essays were filled with messages enabling the readers to spread fraternity and peace. As a result, these pieces used to leave instantly the lasting impressions on the tender minds.

Reading the textbooks ranging from Bangla and English to history and social science, in the earlier days, rarely filled students with any type of monotony. The topics were chosen carefully, so that the students can continue with their learning processes in unalloyed pleasure.

The scenario has changed radically. Subjects or topics having little interest to young learners have been allotted greater space in the books than the child-suiting ones. A small or teenage boy ought to be taught lessons having covers of imaginative tales. Didactic pieces at schools' primary and secondary-stage books help grow a dislike for textbooks on the part of students. Academics in general remain oblivious to the fact that it is the school stage, when the readers of the coming days start maturing. Disliking for textbooks at lower stages blocks the way for youngsters to growing into avid readers of the future.

In the past there were no online entertainments which would have overpowering influence on a Bangla-speaking child. The future readers were seen beginning with fairy tales. Then they would switch over to detective or ghost stories to finally end up with, in their college or early university days, novels with literary value. A few would turn to poetry. The intrusion of Facebook and other online funs has largely spoilt the scenario.

shihabskr@ymail.com

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