Nowadays, reading is in desperate need of advertising as the popularity of fiction is declining rapidly. We start our mornings by checking social network feeds and spend evenings watching TV shows. And, while most adults have probably done at least some reading back in their childhoods, modern kids are at risk of never reaching for a book. Is it a setback for them? Probably, but research is still out on this one. Meanwhile, let’s seek the opinion of writers and celebrities, as some of them have quite a bit to say about the importance of reading fiction.
Who can talk better about the value and benefits of reading books than a world-famous science fiction writer? Here are several fragments from the fundamental speech of Neil Gaiman at the Reading Agency.
«The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.
I don’t think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children’s books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading».
«According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is “the only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds, and type of occupations are taken into account”.
Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce”.
Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.
I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us – as readers, as writers, as citizens – have obligations. I thought I’d try and spell out some of these obligations here.
I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing».
The Oprah Winfrey Book Club appeared in 1996 as a part of her TV show. Although the show was closed several years ago, the club continues to exist online. An updated reading list by Oprah can be found on the website or in the club’s app. She rarely suggests reading bestsellers and prefers classic and niche literature. Most notably, no matter what book is mentioned, its sales always grow rapidly after her recommendation.
Here’s what Oprah says about the importance of reading:
“Books were my path to personal freedom. I learned to read at age 3 and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi. Because of my father’s respect for education and my stepmother’s respect for education, every single week of my life that I lived with them I had to read library books and that was the beginning of the book club. Who knew? But I was reading books and had to do book reports in my own house. Now, at 9 years old, nobody wants to have to do book reports in addition to what the school is asking you to do, but my father’s insistence that education was the open door to freedom is what allows me to stand here today a free woman.”
Oprah is not the only one to have her own book club. Emma Watson also loves reading (just like her favorite characters Hermione Granger and Belle). However, the actress went beyond creating an online club. Once, she left 100 copies of her favorite book at the stations of the London Underground. It was Mom & Me & Mom — the autobiography of Maya Angelou.
“I’m reading so much and exposing myself to so many new ideas. It almost feels like the chemistry and the structure of my brain is changing so rapidly sometimes” says the actress.
With such a serious attitude to books, it’s not surprising that Emma suspended her acting career for a whole year to continue her studies in art and literature at Brown University.
To sum up, we would like to introduce you to a talk by Mac Barnett at the TED Conference. American children’s writer talks about important things with a grain of humor.
We hope that the thoughts of famous people inspired you and helped you to realize the importance of reading. If you want to encourage your child to read more, install this unique app. Nicola helps to develop a habit of reading.