Inculcating love for reading in children…
Children are our future citizens. Books open up new horizons for our children. How can we inculcate love for reading in children? AABP spoke to a cross-section of authors on their views on promoting reading habits and the role of lit fests in the same. Here are the excerpts.
“Let your child enjoy different genres of books”
Says Richa Tilokani is a marketing, communication and advertising professional who loves writing books and poems. She enjoys contributing to myriad magazines, newspapers, blogs and anthologies, writing on wellness, travel, fashion, lifestyle and culture. Her first book The Teachings of Bhagavad Gita- Timeless Wisdom for the Modern Age was published in 2021.
“We have to inculcate the reading habit from a young age. I used to sit with my son when he was 4-5 and help him read every day. Now he loves reading and it gives me great pleasure to see him enjoy different genres of books,” she says.
On asking about her views on literary festivals, she says,” Well, I haven’t attended any so far but from what I have heard they offer a wonderful platform for book lovers to come together and share their experiences. That sounds like a win-win to me.”
“Catch ‘em young”
Says bestselling novelist, short-story writer and poet, Sujata Parashar, whobecame popular with her ‘Pursuit’ series and has so far written twelve books across genres. Sujata is also a psychosocial trainer and the founder of a talk-therapy based platform, The Talk-It-Out-Express;a platform to enhance emotional wellbeing.
According to her, here are a few tips to inculcate love for reading:
1. Catch ‘em young – Inculcate reading habits in children from a young age. Not academic books but interesting stories. Read them bedtime stories and make it an essential (and consistent) part of their daily-routine.
2. Catch yourself first – If you’re a curious person, if you want to expand your knowledge or want to improve your communication skills or just simply want to be a good role model to your child – start reading books.
3. Begin with your favourite topic.
On asking about how literary festivals promote love for reading, Sujata shares, “Literary festivals benefit the writing and the reading community (and even nonreaders) immensely by celebrating books and their creators and fostering learning in a fun and engaging manner. The number of such festivals have been consistently rising in the country and it is a welcome phenomenon. A litfest is a wonderful platform which connects a whole lot of people who enjoy reading (or are curious and want to learn) to people who write about different subjects. On the other hand, writers not only get to talk about their books but also gain insights into a reader’s mind and know their interests and perspectives on different topics. Such healthy interactions trigger new ideas and creativity. The lead character of my novel ‘The Temple Bar Woman,’ Radhika Kumari Choudhary was created based on one such interaction I had with the audience at the 5th edition of Hyderabad Lit Fest.
“Poetry works well at lit fests because it is portable and nifty”
Says Arundhathi Subramaniam, who is a leading Indian poet and the award-winning author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, most recently the poetry volume, Love Without a Story, and a book of conversations with female sacred travellers, Women Who Wear Only Themselves. She is the winner of the Sahitya Akademi Award, the Khushwant Singh Poetry Prize, Raza Award, the Il Ceppo Prize in Italy, the Homi Bhabha and Charles Wallace fellowships, among others.
According to her, love for reading can be inculcated by surrounding young people with books. “I grew up in a houseful of books (from history to fiction – thanks to a bibliophile father), and I had a couple of teachers in school who kept pressing books of poetry into my willing hands (I cannot thank them enough!). Another fun thing to do in class with young people is to read poems aloud. Once one has tasted a love of sound and rhythm, the joy of reading verse follows effortlessly,” she says.
Talking about the importance of lit fests, she says, “Well, the litfest is a phenomenon that happened more than a decade after I became a published poet. So, I’ve been part of a cusp generation that has known life before and after their advent. What I dislike about the lit fest is the air of aggression and self-consequence that it has promoted in a particular breed of writer.”
“But the pluses definitely outweigh the minuses. The great thing is that lit fests have made books seem suddenly glamorous. Poetry, in particular, works well because it is portable and nifty. Unlike fiction which is endlessly discussed in panel discussions, poetry readings offer an instant experience of the form itself. I’ve seen how book sales escalate after readings, so I know that hearing poetry can create many new converts to the form.And even more importantly, there are so many who come up and say they’ve felt prompted to return to reading poetry after decades. This is something I’ve experienced in different parts of the world. A random instance that comes to mind is at the JLF in Mandurah, Australia, where an elderly gentleman came to me weeping at the end of the session. He wrote me a long letter afterwards. He was on a spiritual journey of his own, and something about the poetry reading had touched a chord,” she adds.
It is never too early to inculcate the habit of reading in a child”
Says Katie Bagli, who is an avid nature lover and she gives expression to her passion by writing for children. She has 34 published titles to her credit so far, nearly all of which are on various subjects of nature. She has published articles in several magazines.Katie was awarded the prestigious Rex Karmaveer Global Fellowship Award (instituted by iCongo and the UN) in 2019. “It is never too early to inculcate the habit of reading in a child. Parents can begin reading out stories even before the infant has begun talking or walking. Let reading stories be quality time for the child – let it mean much more than just hearing a story.
Maybe you can sing some parts of the story or maybe you can enact the roles of some of the characters or point to the pictures of the characters and talk about them. You can have a special cozy corner of the house devoted to storing books and for reading together with your child. Bear in mind that children love to mimic their parents. If they see you spending a lot of time reading, then they too would want to do the same,” she says.
Good writing happens with good reading
Says Rochelle Potkar, author of Four Degrees of Separation and Paper Asylum – shortlisted for the Rabindranath Tagore Literary Prize 2020. Her poetry film Skirt was showcased on Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland. Her short story collection Bombay Hangovers available on Amazon worldwide has received rave reviews.
“Keep a reading hour. Form a book club. Form a writing club. Rummage through Amazon’s first pages to see if you like the first pages of a book or browse your local library or bookstore. Reading provides an island of solace and so does writing. Good writing happens with good reading,” she says.
“Literary Festivals are a healthy sign of a literary cultural landscape. I am a commerce grad, an MBA (Mktg), and a PG (Advt.) From my own personal experience, the Jaipur Literature Festival was my first creative writing course. I learned so much for 5 consecutive years going to each of its panels and scribbling notes fervently. Literature festivals not only make for good and better readers, but they might also provoke the writer in you,” she adds.