Reading habits of the young

95-27-02-1996a

By Zubeida Mustafa

TWENTY years ago the National Book Council of Pakistan conducted a survey on the reading habits of children. Interestingly it found that one out of seven children in the 11-15 years age group did not read books apart from their course book. The children interviewed came mainly from middle-class backgrounds.

In 1981, another survey found that one out of five students did not want to read books. These findings were quite alarming. We do not know if the situation is any better today. Given the longer TV transmission hours, the variety of programmes on the dish which so many households now have and the easy availability of the VCR, children are more easily distracted and less likely to be interested in books. Moreover the reading material has become so prohibitively expensive that many people of modest means can be forgiven for worrying about their bread and butter rather than buying books to read. To ascertain present trends, we decided to conduct a mini-survey. Only children from relatively affluent homes were selected. Since they study in private English medium schools of Karachi they can be expected to have access to good literature and the resources to acquire it. Hence they can have no valid excuse for not reading. Much to our relief we found that children have not abandoned the age-old hobby of reading for pleasure altogether. Quite a substantial majority of youngsters (aged 13-15 years) are reading on an average more than two books a month. Continue reading “Reading habits of the young”