“Classroom reading lays the foundation for future learning and knowledge acquisition”

says Monica Malhotra Kandhari, MD, MBD Group, who feels that publishing books for classroom use is one of the most important roles of a publishing house as it impacts students’ learning and development and the growth and evolution of society in general.

Monica Malhotra Kandhari

Publishing houses play an important role in turning manuscripts into books and making them available to readers. Publishers cater to a wide range of readers — from reading for learning to reading for leisure or even self-help and self-improvement. Publishing books for classroom use is one of the most important roles of a publishing house as it impacts students’ learning and development and the growth and evolution of society in general. Apart from conforming to the prescribed syllabus, classroom books have to be relevant,age and learning-objectives appropriate and precise. They have to incorporate the prescribed learning outcomes as well. Classroom publishing therefore lays the foundation for all future learning and knowledge acquisition.

Book over digital devices…

It is in the classroom that reading as an activity is emphatically incorporated into students’ lives. It has been the consistent endeavour of publishers to make content meant for the classroom more interesting and conducive to learning for students. The biggest task at hand for all stakeholders in teaching learning is to get students to look up from their digital devices and pick up a book. Today the content creator’s adversary is not the playground, the friends or the biking in the park and hanging out sessions; today books have to vie with shiny, interactive, easy-to-carry-around devices which provide portals for entertainment and gaming. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, present-day digital devices have cast a spell on our young generation. From scrolling and swiping, kids should be nudged towards turning pages of books. Sniffing inside a book for that special aroma of pages, letters and an adventure beckoning to take them to an unseen, exciting, strange and beautiful world.

Role of publishers…

The joint efforts of all stakeholders in teaching learning are needed to retrieve the children and get them back to the world of comics, books, magazines, newspapers etc. But the first decisive steps have to be taken in the classroom spearheaded by publishers. Content creation for the classroom needs to keep this mission in mind. Content for lessons of all subjects should be created specially with the mission to nudge learners towards research, further reading and writing down their thoughts and observations. Presenting some chapters in a comic format–a la graphic novel – may also be helpful. To incorporate this in the classroom, support may also be needed in the form of policy changes. The Australian model is a case in point. In Australia, students in primary classes are every day given a book to take home to read that they choose from the school library. After reading the book, students are required to note down their thoughts. This is the only homework they do every day. This habit helps students overcome their reluctance to read and write.

At MBD Group, we are aware of our role in gently guiding children towards books and weaning them away from distractions. To make lessons interesting and pages of our books engaging, we have activity corners, suggested further reading and little capsules of information across our books.

Role of teachers…

It’s not only the language subjects, rather every lesson in every subject should have a teaching plan to nudge the child in another direction to find out more on their own. The teacher also plays an important role in this. Slipping in the hidden agenda in the lesson without asking students to actually go and read a set of resources and turn in a certain number of pages or a project at the end of term or vacations will be able to address this issue over a period of time. The reading habit will have to be inculcated in the curriculum every day.

Other initiatives…

Book clubs and book reading sessions for students of all age groups may also be organised by publishers. Incentivising book reading can attract the unwilling reader into its fold. This brings us to another important stakeholder duo in this endeavour: authors and libraries. Once a child’s interest has been piqued enough for them to seek more info on a certain subject, they should be able to access books easily. In other words availability of books should not be a challenge, both from economical and logistical points of view. This generation needs to be introduced to the joy of reading.

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