One can wax emotional about the Hardy Boys, Nancy Drews, Enid Blytons that one used to read during one’s childhood, but the bitter fact remains that today, children are simply not interested in reading! It is considered quaint, old fashioned, and perhaps even looked down as a habit! Many of us would have cut our teeth on Aesop’s Fables, Tales from the Panchtantra or even 101 Arabian Tales in our childhood. After reading these books, one would have graduated to Hardy Boys, and Enid Blytons. A serious reading would lead the adventurer to books by Jack London, Cry of the Wild being one, and then one would move on to books by R.L.Stevenson. A long time ago, Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island would be treasured books. The serious reader would go on to books by E.E.Nesbit, and move on to Sir Henry Rider Haggard, King Solomon’s Mines, She, and The Return of She being some titles I still remember! Books by J.R.Tolkien would have been most coveted with The Return of the ring, and The Hobbit being prized possessions!
I remember that when I was a child, my parents would eagerly read the books that I borrowed from the British Council Library in Addis Abeba. When I was studying in the Arba Minch Comprehensive High School earlier, there was a wonderful school library from where I got my dose of books. Often I would eagerly wait for my father to come back from school with the books that I had requested him to borrow on his card. When he came empty handed sometimes because he hadn’t got time to go to the library, I became disappointed!
Now I have children of my own, and I have observed that they are not as interested in reading as I was as a child and still am! The burden of studies, Home Work, Projects, Entrance Exams, the Rat race, and cut-throat competition have all taken their toll. The spread of the T.V. culture, Internet, the Electronic Media have all edged out the Print Media, making it less popular. Perhaps it is easier to watch a film Titled Lord of the Rings because the whole story can be wound up in just one or two hours. Reading the same book would take days! Has all the technological advancement made our children lazy? The answer to this question is yes. When children are given a project which entails reading a particular book and writing a book review, they just log on to the Internet and get a ready made summary to copy from!
Internet and T.V. have made things so easy for children that they no longer have to go through an entire book. In a world based on the Instant Coffee Approach, it is not surprising that Reading as a hobby or pass time, or as a habit is definitely out of fashion! I guess I am old fashioned and thus quaint, but I will still stick to reading and watch news on T.V. besides Discovery History, and Nat.Geo.! It wouldn’t be wrong, therefore, that the age of the print media, or the age of the novel have finally given away to the age of Information Technology. In an age where there is an exponential dissemination of information and the quantum of information doubles and triples in an arithmetical progression I guess, books are on their way out! Reading a book requires time and leisure, which our children lack. So, I guess, the I.T. age has spelled the death-knell of reading as a habit and a pass-time. Book lovers are therefore a dying breed, and they should bow out gracefully to the internet junkie and the Couch Potato!