World Book Day: Why Don’t We Celebrate It In Kashmir?

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Azra Mufti

World Book Day, also known as World Book and Copyright Day, is an annual event celebrated on 23 April. UNESCO observes the day to promote a culture of reading and publishing. It coincides with the death anniversary of William Shakespeare and several other prominent authors.

I have found very few schools in Kashmir celebrate this day and it does not get the treatment that it deserves. Book day should be celebrated in schools, colleges and universities to make students realise the importance of reading and inculcate the habit of book reading. It is unfortunate that the habit of reading is seeing a sharp decline since the advent of social media and with the electronic gadgets robing us of the fun of holding a book in our hands.

According to National Literacy Trust, the number of children reading books has fallen down to 26 percent in 2020 as compared to 43 percent in 2015.

According to National Literacy Trust, the number of children reading books has fallen down to 26 percent in 2020 as compared to 43 percent in 2015. Their annual survey shows that the more that can be done to develop and sustain children and young peoples’ intrinsic motivation to read, the more success they will enjoy in future. Book day should thus be seen as a platform where authors, writers, poets and readers come together to share their love of reading and writing. In schools especially, activities should be organised where students share their favourite characters, induce role-plays, conduct book reviews and organise book quiz. The importance of book day in schools will help students realise the importance of this day and they will pick the habit of book reading at an appropriate age.

Sub-continental society is still feudal in nature with the societies divided into haves and have nots. Opportunities of reading are also not evenly distributed. Poor people don’t have access to quality education or literature and thus do not have choices that concern reading. There is a small section that has inculcated the habit of vernacular reading. Iceland, for example, on the other hand is one among the top literate nations and is continuously expanding its literary horizons.

According to a survey conducted by Icelandic Literature Centre, women read about three to four books in a month and men read about two. No doubt that Iceland is one of the happiest and peaceful nations on earth.

According to a survey conducted by Icelandic Literature Centre, women read about three to four books in a month and men read about two. No doubt that Iceland is one of the happiest and peaceful nations on earth. UNESCO has given warning of “legacy of literacy” in developing nations which costs them billions of dollars a year. According to its report, India is among one of the ten countries that account for almost three quarters of the world’s illiterate adults. Education funding should be shifted towards early primary education and reading initiatives.

Azra Mufti is the author of ‘Tearful Pages and Shattered Dreams’ and a research scholar in Management Studies.

There is a need to take books to the people rather than waiting for the people to come to the books. Unfortunately, with the advent of internet, children prefer to listen audio books or e-books but reading a hard copy has its own perks, it is like having a conversation with the brightest minds that ever lived on earth. A recent scholastic survey found that only 32 percent of children read 24 non-academic books annually which is really heartening. Students must be encouraged to look book reading as a fun activity rather than a chore. The demographic dividends cannot be reaped if we do not improve our literacy rates and readership.

In Kashmir, the government and non governmental institutions should start the trend of book fairs. Private organisations should come forward and open some book clubs to promote readers and reading. Book promotion centres should come up to promote budding writers and readers and for those who cannot afford to buy quality and expensive books. A dedicated team should come forward to reach to the marginalised sections of society and help them read.

I have always imagined paradise as a kind of libraryJorge Luis Borges

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