Nasana Bajracharya

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Published On: January 20, 2018 10:01 AM NPT By: Nasana Bajracharya

Start reading to get better insight

Start reading to get better insight

KATHMANDU:  Books are one of the oldest mediums for information. Some people manage to read hundreds and thousands of books in their lifetime, while others don’t even read one. Books have become a part of lifestyle. Reading culture is flourishing worldwide, but the culture in Nepal has a mixed or rather limited followers.

More people, especially the younger generation, have started to understand the value of reading. Times have changed as writers have become the new celebrities, while celebrities are turning writers.

This has also attracted more young readers and it is true for Nepal as well. Writers like Subin Bhattarai, Madan Krishna Shrestha, Hari Bansha Acharya have attracted quite a number of readers. But the readers somehow get limited to one book. 

The problem seems to lie in the environment and the mindset we grow with. “When we talk about reading, Nepali students often refer to it as reading course books. That is not an issue. The problem is that it is the only kind of reading they ever encounter. Kids are still frowned upon for reading non-course books. They have been wired to read for exams and secure more marks. And as soon as the school ends, kids’ reading ends as well,” said Shiksha Nepal’s Founder Prem Bahadur Bohara.

Meanwhile, lack of resources (books/libraries/bookshops) also acts as a primary cause of the problem. The want for conducive environment and encouragement to read also seems to add to the issue. The absence of reading culture is not only present in rural parts of Nepal where literacy rate is low and there is lack of resources. Nepal Reads’ coordinator (overseer) Biplav Shrestha, who is also a regular reader, said, “There are not enough libraries and bookshops in the city to promote reading. Such spaces are limited in some areas and are not within everyone’s reach. Ample resources could definitely make a difference.”

To bridge the gap between people and books, a few initiatives are being run and one of them is by Shiksha Nepal. It is a literary promotion organization helping students in schools of various districts by donating books since 2012. “We focus mainly on children because it is the age where you start learning, and learn the most. We donate course books, novels, pictorial books and short stories so that children get chance to read and learn,” informed Bohara. 

Also the other initiative in operation is the ‘Book Bus’, a mobile library and a creative learning space, which since 2009 has travelled to many schools and communities of various districts including Kathmandu to give students of all age the reading and learning experience. The Book Bus is contributing not only through books, but also by giving visual and interactive learning experiences to students. It is operated by Satori Center for the Arts and is one of the eight American Spaces supported by the US Embassy in Nepal. 

To take reading culture to the next level, Nepal Reads is one such community that has been organizing different book related discussions. It has seen participation of young readers in different parts of the Kathmandu Valley in a total of 12 book discussions it held in a year. They have also coordinated different book discussions and panel discussions in colleges and organizations as well as have helped make libraries and select book collection, and are running teacher training programs on how to integrate fun learning in their education system. 

In all these initiatives, social media platforms have played a crucial role to connect one reader with another as well as in their promotion. Also the rise in digital platforms like multiple reading apps and Amazon’s kindle has surged the reading culture among people worldwide.

Reading a book is for yourself. As you flip through the pages of a book, it indulges your mind and lets you enter an entirely different world. It lets you experience situations that have never happened to you before, and even if they did, you can get a new perspective and learn something new. It can even be your escape from reality or a mirror to a different kind of reality. “Choose your language, start reading and expand your thought horizon. For young readers and new readers, it is recommended that they read what they can to establish that habit. While as you mature as reader and as you age, you will be able to decide what to read, how to read it and why, also what you want to get out of your reading. All this will narrow your choices and you will start reading better books that will help you develop your critical thinking,” suggested Pranab Man Singh, co-founder of Quixote’s Cove.

National Reading Mela 2018: Nepal Padhdai cha

Shiksha Nepal is scheduled to organize the National Reading Mela 2018: Nepal Padhdai Cha fair at Rastriya Naach Ghar, Jamal from January 20-22. The event is being organized in coordination with National Volunteering Program.

More than 10,000 books in Nepali and English languages, for every age group, will be put on display at different stalls with 20 percent discount on every book. More than 200 volunteers have been appointed for the three-day event.

The fair will also have several sessions where guest speakers from different backgrounds like actors, writers and businesspersons, will speak about the books they like, and about their reading experiences. The event will also have music, dance, face paint, food and other activities along with stalls of bookmarks and recycled paper crafts. 

The main motive of the event is to establish and promote reading culture, and to motivate people to read more and to simply celebrate the joy of reading for self. The organizers also aim to announce their next target for book collection at the event.

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