Reading – a habit on decline

Syed Badshah

The famous English writer Sir Francis Bacon in one of his essays says: “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” However, in the today’s modern and tech-obsessed society we see a sheer decline in the reading habit despite its high importance to human life and that is a very alarming sign for our progress and development.

The youth who are considered as the mass power to build a nation have no special interest in the reading (rather than their academic studies), spending their precious time mostly in using mobile phones and laptops. Majority of them even have become so obsessed with social media that they remain busy in using it till late hours and then they feel drowsiness and laziness in the classrooms which adversely affect their studies.

Once there was a time when there were no mobile phones and modern technologies in our homes. The adults were seen to spend their enough time with their kids and families. They used to prepare their children for listening stories from the books and as a result children adopted the reading habit. But now there is no such creative activity in our homes and almost everyone has a cell phone in his/her hand having no time for any other activity.

As our body needs nutrition and exercise to keep itself fit, similarly, our mind also needs knowledge through reading to keep itself active. In other words, reading is what opens up our minds and new vistas. The history is witness that always the best and voracious readers have prevailed and survived in most of the circumstances.

But, very sadly we neither provide a creative environment to our children, nor we play any special role to create awareness among the students to be in touch with the books, especially the general books. On the contrary, the educational institutes just encourage rote learning and force the students to cram the books and get good grades or marks so that their system survives. However, it should be noted that reading habit can mostly be developed in the institutes as there is no better place other than schools, colleges and universities for the students to adopt this useful habit.

Being a teacher, unfortunately I have never seen a parent bothering about the library in our school for the students but rather they always complain about the academic scoring of their children. In private schools, the teachers are also forced by the administration to improve the score of the students by hook or by crook and when they do not do so, they are fired from the job. And this is why when these students appear in the competitive exams or other conceptual tests, the major chunk of them hardly gets through.

In the decline of reading culture, the rising prices of the books are another problem. Due to this most of the readers have stopped purchasing books and this trend has adversely affected the business of books. In last few years, many big and leading book shops have been closed as the number of customers was not even enough to meet the basic expanses. And this is another dilemma.

Therefore, it is need of the time that the government should grant the status of tax-free item to all types of books. The books must be subsidized as now-a-day purchase power of most of the readers is very low and they can’t afford buying expensive books. Apart from this, parents should also provide their children with magazines and periodicals of their choice so that they can develop their reading habit. Similarly, the teachers in the institutes should not only put the students into cramming the course books for good marks but rather they should encourage them to read the general books. Moreover, public libraries should also be established in every district and tehsil to provide a platform to book lovers to strengthen and develop the reading habit more and more.

The writer is an academic and M.Phil scholar in English literature at the University of Hazara, Mansehra, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He can be contacted at:

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