If I ask you when was the last time you read a book, chances are you’ll answer last weekend, at the least, or a month or a year ago, at the most. But if I ask you when was the last time you read something online (a tweet or a Facebook update), you’ll probably answer just a few minutes ago. Correct?
In this era of on-screen and mobile technology, we have changed the way we consume information. Teenagers and young adults have glued their eyes to their smartphones. They often read snippets, excerpts, articles (or parts of them), messages, and pieces of information from everywhere. Most of them even prefer videos over text-based content.
It’s sad that even one of the well-known social media influencers admits on her own platform that she doesn’t read much or hates reading. And to think that most of the young people today follow her on that particular social media platform adds to the “problem” of lesser reading.
These days, reading is not much as it used to be years ago. But, with new technologies around us, reading a book has become a struggle for some people because:
- They don’t have much time or they’re too busy
- They prefer watching TV or films rather than reading the novel
- They find it hard to read or can’t even read
Digital culture has enveloped us more quickly than we ever imagined. We, as adults, are also overwhelmed by this change. And we shrug off the problem. After all, reading trends have changed in the past; television altered our consciousness and social patterns years before we were born. We and our kids survived and became adults. Literature (and reading) will survive, too, somehow.
Too Many Books, Too Little Time
An article I read years ago stated that 67% of 2000 British adults said they would like to read more but 48% admitted they’re too busy to read. Work and everyday chores are factors that contribute to less reading.
Even I myself admit that I still have books gathering dust on my bookshelf waiting to be read. Yet, I try my very best to read before going to sleep. Another trick I found much better is reading on my cellphone. An e-book reading app has a text reader and even animates the turning of the page. I was able to read a few novels on my cellphone which if I would read it using a hard copy would take me much more time to finish. It’s like reading a long text message.
The TV or Movie Versions
Most films get their materials from books. The Godfather, To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone With the Wind, etc. have become films. Until today, films and TV shows came from bestselling novels. Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and Harry Potter are just some of them.
I admit, there are films and TV shows that I didn’t realize were books at first. But as much as possible, I prefer reading the book first before watching the movie.
Also, psychologists have justified that there are certain types of people who prefer watching to reading. These are the so-called “visuals”. Most young people today are “visuals” who would like to see things move before their eyes in order for them to absorb the information fast.
But the much more serious problem is that some people find it hard to read because of their inability to read. Until now, issues of illiteracy continue especially among the poor. With the increasing prices of education, the poor can’t afford to send their children to school.
The key to literacy is reading. One has to progress his skills from the ability to recognize letters, to understand spoken words and decode written words, and to understand the text.
Do not read as children do to enjoy themselves, or, as the ambitious do to educate themselves. No, read to live.– Gustave Flaubert
Benefits of Reading
If you’re one of the countless people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out on these benefits:
- Mind stimulation – Recent studies suggest that reading slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Like eating right and exercising to maintain physical health, reading strengthens the muscles in your brain and can help you improve skills like memory retention and focus. It also helps sharpen the mind to be more of a critical thinker.
- Knowledge – Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. Reading broadens our knowledge of the world.
- Vocabulary expansion – The more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and they’ll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary.
- Better writing skills – This goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of your vocabulary: Exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on one’s own writing, as observing the cadence, fluidity, and writing styles of other authors will invariably influence your own work.
- Reduce stress – No matter how much stress you are going through at work, in your personal life, or anywhere else, reading a good story can help you take your mind off these difficult situations.
- Entertainment – Reading is also a form of entertainment. We find stories inspiring and sometimes help us escape reality and begin to explore other realities.
What Can We Do?
- Start them young. Parents should encourage their kids to read starting with age-appropriate books. We are a family of book readers. My husband and I grew up reading books. So when my daughter was still a toddler, I started showing her books for her to read and play with.
- Encourage kids to visit libraries and bookstores. With the Internet, it’s easy to get e-books online. This trend has affected libraries and bookstores. My husband and I still visit bookstores and we tag our daughter along. Now, my daughter tries her hand at writing.
- Read while waiting. Falling in line and doing nothing? Take this opportunity to read. I bring along my cell phone and read e-books while waiting in the bank, commuting, or whatever that will put me on hold. That takes away the boredom of waiting.
- Start a reading habit. Try a few suggested tricks on how to develop a habit now and up to 21 days. They say that a habit can easily be formed within 21 days if done regularly. I read a book before sleeping. I try to read one book a week but I haven’t achieved reading 52 books a year. At least, I’m trying.
- Give away books to read. The idea of sharing books with someone is another way to encourage people to read. Let me take this opportunity to share with you my e-books for you to read. Not only they’re entertaining, but they’re also FREE.
- Si Aling Mameng (Filipino comics)