World Book Day turns spotlight on lost art of reading in digital age

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 9:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 April, 2017, 10:35pm

Last Sunday (April 23) marked the annual World Book and Copyright Day, created by Unesco in 1995. The purpose of the day is to inspire more people, especially the younger generation, to read, in a mark of respect and tribute to those who made great contributions to literature and culture. It also highlights the need for protection of intellectual copyright.

April 23 is a symbolic date for world literature. It was on this date in 1616 that Cervantes and Shakespeare died. It is also the date of birth or death of many other prominent authors.The UN day is observed by millions in over 100 countries, in voluntary organisations, schools, public bodies, professional groups and private businesses. It was great to have this day, as people nowadays do not value books like they used to.

I was born in the mid-1970s. At that time, the indoors hobby of most children was reading books, as technology and living standards were not so advanced yet and most families could not afford even a a black and white television.

I remember the joy of writing book reports during my secondary school years, even winning a prize in an inter-school competition. There was a book club in my school, and students could gather at the weekends to share their reading experiences.

However, today’s world is very different. We find children as young as two glued to their iPad. In order to stop them from throwing a tantrum during family outings, parents will often equip them with an iPad or similar tablet computer. The parents themselves are often engrossed in their own smartphones or other gadgets. In fact, you find people hardly know how to interact face-to-face socially any more.

Since primary school, the only thing I knew was books, as my mother forbade me to watch TV so as not to distract me from studies. How I wish that more of us would resume the habit of reading, to broaden our minds and to regain the human touch.

Eunice Li Dan-yue, Shanghai