Many benefits in getting the young to pick up the reading habit

I am writing about how reading as a national pastime has fallen off in Singapore.

From a young age, reading and how to read effectively must be inculcated as it is absolutely essential to the development of the mind.

We should draw inspiration from the United Kingdom, where I have observed that reading is very much part of the culture.

Readers there have access to some of the finest libraries and bookstores in the world.

Arguments such as the lack of time or interest don't apply as it is common sense that reading helps in the building of social skills and confidence when interacting with others.

It gives one enough understanding to hold a conversation.

And if work and family commitments are cited as reasons for not reading, it should be made clear that everyone needs to take a break and what better way to do that than by reading a book.

As for other distractions, such as the Internet and social media, nothing beats picking up a literary work and being able to critique it.

This appears to have been much practised in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially in England, where the classic novels of the time were discussed at length, allowing one to reveal the extent of one's reading and ability to recall pertinent facts.

It certainly helped with winning friends and influencing people.

Owning a book, reading it and going back to it gives one a great deal of satisfaction, especially if it is a classic.

We should start with the classics where possible as they aid our grasp of the language and allow us to see the world through an assortment of characters, opening our minds to various opinions and perspectives, nurturing a sense of empathy in us.

We can then move on to more lively subjects, but only after the learning process has been completed and the ability to appreciate fully absorbed.

And it is most important to be able to distinguish between what is good reading and what is not.