Nepal contains part of the Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world. Eight of the fourteen eight-thousanders are located in the country, either in whole or shared across a border with China or India.
It’s a world of easy distractions: the flicker of the television, the simulated adventures of games, the summer hours that seem endless. Children are offered a myriad of possibilities; each seemingly better than the last and each certain to provide laughter. Technology and nature battle for attention, with campaigns spreading across all seasons – and those campaigns lead to certain pastimes being forgotten, ignored in the wake of better, brighter things. Reading is such a pastime.
It seems impossible to force a child to take a moment to stare at a page, to indulge in words. There are far more obvious activities to offer (ones that are usually wanted and begged for). Reading books has become almost… quaint, with little focus offered to it.
This is a mistake.
Children need more than their cinema dreams and computer conversations. They instead need to develop an interest in stories. During formative years such an interest becomes vital in ensuring future success:
1. Language skills. It is an obvious advantage but one too often ignored. Language requires more than cliches and ever-changing jargon. It must instead be formed to grander terms; and books help to make that possible. When began at an early age reading stimulates the mind, exposing it to new ideas and new possibilities. A vocabulary is expanded and intelligence is earned.
2. Cultural understanding. We are not all destined to travel the world. We can, however, all be destined to master it from the comforts of home. Reading ensures that continents can be explored – with history, religion and philosophy all learned. This helps to generate empathy and awareness beyond the common experiences.
3. Confidence. Children who can read are offered an instant reward of self-assurance. They enter their classrooms with a foundation of knowledge and ability. They are beyond the usual assumptions and will be praised for it. This helps to create confidence and allows school to become a place of refuge, not loathing.
The value of books is undeniable. The importance of reading is paramount. Children should therefore be encouraged always to learn, explore and enjoy.