“Books Should Always be Accessible and Not Locked Up.” WWF Mumbai

Raising Readers Women writer's festival, Mumbai 2018

The SheThePeople.TV Women Writers’ Fest began with a panel on Bringing up a Generation of Readers. It was an insightful panel with responses from panelists across the spectrum of parenting and writing. We had Payal Kapadia, Preeti Vyas, Lubaina Tyeb Bandukwala and Dr. Swati Popat Vats talk about what it takes to raise children as writers and how we must leave the choice to the kids. The panel was moderated by Ruchita Dar Shah.

According to Dr. Vats, the last couple of years have seen a rise in readership among children as parents have started to try and inculcate this habit more seriously. It’s slowly replacing the extra-curricular classes and video games. Mothers have started picking up good books for children and are encouraging them to read.

The internet is slowly hijacking brains the way books did a long while ago.

Preeti Vyas says that business and sales are booming in Children’s fiction. This has to be a good sign. Schools reach out to authors for discussions and events too which is adding to the practice of reading. Payal Kapadia thinks that not only parents but also teachers are realising the importance of reading which in turn is creating a space where good books are talked about and promoted. Reading is alive and well although book stores are sadly becoming a thing of the past. Reading is especially important in today’s day and age where it’s a practice in building an attention span. But kids are definitely reading a lot less than they used to in previous generations. The internet is slowly hijacking brains the way books did a long while ago.

Reading is also trumping writing as the latter is slowly going obsolete especially in the professional and personal spheres as typing replaces the pen. Handwriting is not as much of necessity as being able to operate a keyboard. Exams will soon not be written by pen and hand too. But reading, that is a practice which still endures. We’ve gone from reading more to reading bite sized. There is a diversity which is found in the books that are available to children today. Perhaps what is holding back readership is parents not allowing their children to be bored.

Preeti Vyas, as a publisher of children’s books, started reading to her son when he was 10 days old.

Preeti Vyas, as a publisher of children’s books, started reading to her son when he was 10 days old and people thought her to be mad. She said that there is extensive research that suggests there is immense value in starting to read to your child in their early years. There is a frequency on which our brains and devices operate. When people read, their frequencies are at the theta state where they are calm, peaceful and at the highest level of information absorption and retention. That is one of the biggest powers of reading. It is amazing that people can pay exorbitant amounts of money to activate their brain when that very power lies untapped and far more accessible in a book and there is a book on every subject.

Devices kill the joy of holding a book and the discovery of books.

What parents could is inculcate a practice of reading the actual physical book before presenting their child with a choice to move on to a Kindle or other device. Comic books are books and are a valuable part of literary fiction that parents and children shouldn’t be afraid of tapping into. Identify what works best for your child and allow your child to make choices for themselves too, with guidance from you intermittently. Books should always be accessible and not locked up. Don’t make reading an activity such as study. Not every child is a reader and reading as an ability should definitely not be measured.