Why is reading culture dying?

Scholars, intellectuals, philosophers, authors, and poets have long enjoyed a special and vital role in the halls of power, as history attests. Those well-versed in the humanities (politics, philosophy, and religion) were considered superior to those just wealthy. It used to be that a person’s library and book collection were sources of great pride.

Even though reading books are universally acknowledged as a cultural and intellectual activity that keeps the brain active and healthy, this practice is rapidly dying out in our society. While there are many factors at play here, the persistent poverty that seems to be getting worse by the day is a major factor. Another major contributor is the rote memorization emphasis of our educational system; many students falsely believe that cramming for exams by memorizing information from “key books” is the surest path to success. In addition, instructors seldom acknowledge when students cite sources outside of the required textbooks since the instructor is often embarrassed to admit their lack of expertise.

Parents are just as guilty as teachers of not encouraging their children to read widely since they focus on earning the high test scores necessary for entrance to professional universities. The proliferation of the internet as a means of accessing virtually any book or magazine at no cost is also a contributing factor to the decline in reading rates; not only is reading material that may be harmful to the developing brains of children and teenagers readily available but prolonged computer use has been shown to have negative effects on eye health. Before it’s too late, our government should consider this issue and work to lower the cost of paper and printing materials so that books are affordable for genuine readers. In addition, our media should work to promote the value of reading by organizing book festivals alongside music and dance celebrations.

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