The "R" Word
by Thulasie Manoharan
I remember the first time I had completed an entire book; it was “Noddy Meets Father Christmas” by Enid Blyton. It was a bright yellow book, no more than 65 pages, but it had sparked a joy so deep within me that books became the air I breathe. As dramatic as it sounds, what I did not know then was that, there I was all jolly and happy about reading my first book but not very far away, there would be another kid, who would never know the joy of reading a good book.
In a recent article in The Guardian, psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, at the New School for Social Research in New York, “have proved that reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people's emotions”. Reading has also been said to increase brain connectivity and creativity in countless studies. The most interesting of all was the Save the Children UK Campaign in 2014 called “Read On and Get On” which showed that reading can actually diminish poverty. According to the campaign study, “reading is the critical route to other subjects as well as a provider of wider opportunities for giving more and getting more from life and work”
Despite all these benefits, children are constantly deprived of reading in the name of oppression, poverty, religious reasons and gender issues, even in most developed countries. In China, “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” by Lewis Carol was banned in 1931 because the story portrayed anthropomorphized animals acting on the same level of complexity as human beings and Dr. Seuss’s “Green Eggs and Ham” was temporarily banned due to its portrayal of early Marxism. In most Muslim countries, girls are not allowed to read because reading is a sign of rebellion, and books of western influences aren’t allowed because it is said to poison the mind of children. In Nepal an approximate of only 9000 children attend school and the ratio of boys attending school to girls are 2:1. All these things are still happening today and nobody seems to understand the sheer importance of reading.
The question still stands: why deny a child of the simple pleasures of a book?
When children are exposed to myriad ideas in books, their unadulterated minds have the ability to create life changing perspectives. This in return helps a child be reflective. Being reflective allows them the opportunity to understand how they can be productive with their new perspective. Next time you want to buy a child a gift, dodge the teddy bear and grab a book instead.