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Habit of reading is the key to learning

When was the last time you picked up a book to read?

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Reading is a foundational skill, which enables us to gain knowledge, acquire perspective and even do better at competitive exams! Soumi Ghosh from The Levelfield School writes about the importance of a reading habit for students.

Amidst the constant frenzy of the modern life, when was the last time you picked up a book to read?

The past decade has witnessed a rising tendency to replace words with images. In the 21st century, most people have given up the habit of reading and switched to a simpler mode of information exchange— images and videos.

While websites previously used to be text-heavy, they are now packed with images and videos. In fact, the websites with the highest follower base are websites like Facebook, or Instagramwhere it is mainly, or only, images that can be found.

Although we are losing the habit of reading, its values are still applicable in our world. Reading books is like acquiring a new set of eyes. It lets us experience new worlds, cultures, etc. without actually being there.

By now, one might label it as a positive way to pass time but it can prove to be useful in even learning academic subjects like history.

The series of historical fictions, Empire of The Moghul by Alex Rutherford, delves deep into the lives of the Mughal emperors and gives us a glimpse into their personalities. It depicts a Jahangir that would never be found in any history textbook. A Jahangir who was sometimes high on opium or a Jahangir who was jealous of his own son, Shah Jahan for gaining the favour of Akbar. Bluntly put, it provides a fresh perspective into the lives of the Mughal emperors and gives us new insights on multiple facets of their personalities.

Another example would be Things Fall Apart, written by Chinua Achebe. This classic of the world literature described pre-colonial Africa when it was still being ravaged by clashes between numerous tribes. It gives us a glimpse into the African culture and customs, depicting their beliefs and superstitions. Things Fall Apart also portrays the beginnings of the European imperialism in Africa and how it gradually weakened the local culture.  

There are several other books like George Orwell’s Animal Farm, 1984, Ken Follett’s Century Trilogy, etc. which can be read to gain knowledge about the world.

Apart from long-term skill-building, reading can also have an immediate impact on one’s life. In the current world, reading has become a key component of aptitude tests like SAT, CAT, etc. Therefore, if one intends to get admission into a good college or university abroad, it becomes necessary to read to even be able to score high on the aptitude tests. What better way to improve one’s future prospects apart from reading?

But don’t get me wrong! Reading is only helpful when the readers themselves have also developed the ability to judge the content of the book. Just like well chosen books can significantly improve one’s knowledge and intelligence, this effect can easily be reversed by substandard books books that dwell on completely imaginary entities like vampires and wizards, books that build unrealistic expectations in the mind of the reader and warp their sense of reality. Therefore, while I am encouraging everyone to take up the habit of reading, it is imperative to choose wisely!