Dear Readers – Many of you have asked for copies of my answer to a father, regarding what teenagers gain from reading for themselves (not just to please parents), in my September 2, 2015 column:
I am from India. My daughter, an intelligent student in the 10th Grade, prefers watching TV during her leisure, rather than reading books.
I always advise her against this by saying that a reading habit will help her stay victorious in life.
Can you advise her on the importance of reading?
This is addressed to that teenage daughter and all the other youth whose well-intentioned parents urge them towards what they believe will improve their futures:
This father is right, though not entirely. Television, film, and other media also have a place in your lives, as part of your generation’s culture and socialization.
But reading opens doors in your own mind for your own personal growth, and that’s at least as important as becoming victorious.
Reading gives you deeper insights to what you see on TV, where it’s sometimes hyped or glamourized.
It explodes your imagination about what you read, not relying on others’ images to show you.
It brings understanding that makes you informed and self-confident in dealings with others.
It brings knowledge that makes you better able to grasp new ideas, and become more creative at your own interests.
Whatever your hopes and dreams are for the future, reading can improve your chances of attaining them.
That’s partly what this father meant when he used the word “victorious,” but it applies to your own goals for you, not just his.
Reading can take you to as-yet unexplored worlds – travel, music, art, literature, poetry, science, and technology - helping you to decide what’s ahead for you.
And reading novels about history and romance brings awareness of a world of different peoples, and of human emotions, which affect you and all your relationships.
There should be time for television, radio, film, etc., for entertainment, and also for advancing knowledge and understanding.
But reading’s a habit you can turn to for refuge or inspiration throughout your life.
It’s the foundation from which you’ll better choose what you watch on TV, what movies you see, even whom you connect with on social media.
So read for yourself, not just for your parents. They have the same hopes you have – that you attain a fulfilled life.