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Government Gazette

Fostering the reading habit

As the month of September has been annually declared as the national literary month in Sri Lanka, both book sellers and the reading public pay special attention on the importance of reading and the immense benefits it brings to us and this time is very appropriate for us to think about the great importance of reading and how to foster the reading habit among the young and the old.

Today reading is not a very popular choice as a recreational activity for most children as well as adults. Most of them do not even care to discuss the great joy that can be found between the covers of a good book. Therefore, it is very essential that particularly in our schools, the reading habit be encouraged and nurtured.

The teaching of reading in schools should focus attention firstly on the development of basic skills and specially vocabulary development techniques should be emphasised. The most essential thing in promoting the reading habit is to create a genuine interest in reading and how to enjoy life through the process of reading.


It is of not much use teaching children to read if the skill of reading is not to be used in their later life. Emphasis should also be stressed on the use of reading in our daily lives. It is only the young people who accept the joy and value of habitual reading that carry on this noble habit of reading into their adult lives.

The home should necessarily be the origin of creating an interest in reading and parents could do much to encourage their children to read intelligently. Next the schools can do much to promote the reading habit. An interest in reading cannot develop in a vacuum. It is always founded on personal interests.

A student who is interested in dogs would always prefer to read a book on dogs. Thus the first step in arousing an interest in reading is to stimulate the child with life and the world around him.

When we consider this fact the home is a very important factor in creating an interest in reading and it is in one’s home that a positive attitude towards reading can be created in the minds of children.

The parents of all children should provide a background for the fostering of healthy reading habits. An interest to read should be as natural to a child as watching T.V. and to achieve this a powerful home environment for reading has to be built up. However, the parents who are keen to foster the reading habit among their children should themselves know something about books and authors.


For the younger children the parents should choose the books and a child’s first books should be attractive and should contain accurate descriptions with coloured pictures. Later a broad variety of books are necessary to enhance the child’s horizons in reading. At the same time children must be taught to treat books with care and respect.

Of course, a child’s fear of damaging books should not be allowed to interfere with his desire to handle them and to read them to get the maximum benefit.

When a child enters a school, teachers, specially the language teachers, should take the responsibility to estimate the child’s interest in reading. During the school going days itself children should be encouraged to build up a private library with one’s favourite books and periodicals. Thus the teachers attitude is a very significant feature in improving a student’s love for reading.

Whereever possible opportunities to read for enjoyment in the classroom itself should be provided and a daily period devoted entirely for reading will not be out of place in any school. This would provide each pupil an excellent opportunity for exploiting his needs to improve his reading skills.


While the taste for reading should be groomed from the very young days reading for life plays an important part in the lives of everyone of us.

Teaching children to read can be very challenging and activities involved could be planning and implementing lessons, designing and preparing special reading materials, diagnosing reading problems and providing remedies for them and the teacher himself could be a reading model by reading aloud to the children and discussing about books with them.

Today we are flooded with an ocean of printed material which pour out of the world’s presses and it is almost impossible to read everything that is printed. Therefore, for efficient and useful reading we must make a proper selection of the reading material at hand and we must select the best from the point of view of individual tastes.

Good and great books which elevate our mental horizons should be read patiently and discerning readers must always avoid trashy literature like cheap novels which flood some of our bookshops.

It is also very important that people who are new to the world of reading should seek some guidance in the selection of suitable reading material and this can easily be done by going through book reviews published in daily and weekly newspapers and in magazines. A well written review would always give a fair picture of the book under review.


Different individuals will have widely different values in reading the same book. However, taken as a whole, books offer amusement, knowledge, inspiration, imagination and even escape.

Those who expect to get relaxation and amusement by reading books should always do their reading in a relaxed mood and atmosphere free from outside disturbances. Particularly those who seek knowledge from reading should read carefully, taking down notes wherever necessary.

These notes will come in useful either immediately or even many years later. It is saddening that today more and more people are reading less and less good books as they are thoroughly contented by reading books of low literary value such as cheap romances.

This is particularly so with many of our teenagers who should really be guided to become more discerning readers and in reading too like in many other activities early habit formation is of intrinsic value.

It is a very good habit to read the daily newspapers intelligently as these are daily digests that keep us informed of things happening around us.

Thus selection in reading is absolutely important and readers must make up their minds to read material that will add to their mental strength and well-being. Random and aimless reading will do us more harm than good.


Reading is infectious and only if the parents are readers will their off-spring take up to reading and begin to love books.

The nurturing of mental culture through the medium of reading is limitless and to a voracious reader a public or a private library is a true joy in life. Finally we must agree that any national program of good reading is a step towards a better world and a cultured world.

In conclusion it must be mentioned that a good dictionary is a useful tool for all readers and one should be easily available when one needs it.

In addition to a dictionary an encyclopedia should also be easily available. It is only then that one could develop a skill to find information in books.


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