A reading culture is defined as an environment where reading is cherished, respected, and encouraged. Reading is more than just a pastime or a requirement for schoolwork. But does Mauritius have a reading culture?
Reading plays a vital role in society – from reading emails, text messages, road signs, or advertisements. In reality, even individuals who claim to despise reading do so daily. Therefore, reading is not just essential to future career success. It can also benefit youngsters in future relationships while maintaining a household and other aspects of their personal life.
Unfortunately, many individuals, particularly young people, are losing interest in reading in Mauritius. But what is the importance of having a culture of reading, and what are the ways to foster it?
Importance of a Reading Culture
- Improves vocabulary and understanding – Having a reading culture can expose people to new words, phrases, and writing styles. Even adults can come across numerous new terms that they have never heard of before. This is thus more beneficial to children who often fumble over their words, unsure of how to pronounce or understand them. Being exposed to new terms more frequently or even repeatedly through reading can help youngsters have a better understanding of them in context. Research has even found that children who read daily for pleasure outperform their peers on oral exams and acquire a more extensive vocabulary and enhanced general knowledge.
- Improves critical reasoning skills – Among the many benefits of reading, culture helps build essential thinking abilities. Reading forces people to think and analyse information in ways that cannot be done by watching a movie. The more they read, the more individuals can grasp what they read and how it applies to their lives. Critical thinking skills are therefore essential while making vital day-to-day decisions.
- Enhances memory – Reading can help a person to improve their memory. Each time they read, their brains learn to remember different aspects of the book, such as the scenes, characters, origins, histories, personalities, or subplots.
- Improves academic performance – Children who enjoy reading books and discovering new topics usually perform better in school. Having a culture of reading not only help to improve oral and written communication skills, but it also helps to improve creativity, develop empathy, be more open to new ideas and improve their concentration level. Researchers have found that reading can increase empathy by captivating the reader in the plot and allowing them to experience the characters’ emotions, such as pain. Children can thus learn to sympathise with the characters in the stories and even aspire to be like them. Furthermore, reading can help students improve their concentration levels by focussing on the story and its little details. Additionally, books usually have critical life lessons that children can learn from. As a result, moral norms such as good things being appreciated and bad guys being punished in books can make children learn to avoid problems at school. Moreover, since having a reading culture can help develop and improve many skills, it can help the student be more confident.
- Better leaders – Even if not scientifically proven, having a reading culture can help Mauritius have better leaders. Almost all great leaders in history were readers. They had acquired good reading habits, which is one of the reasons they are respected and renowned for their wisdom. For millennia, reading has been a source of inspiration, progress, and new ideas. A good culture of reading it Mauritius can thus help bring up better leaders.
Ways to Create a Reading Culture in Mauritius
- Parents should encourage reading – Parents should encourage reading at a very young age. Even if the child is too young to comprehend every word, they will hear new sounds, words, and phrases that they may then try to mimic. This allows them to expand their vocabulary and enhance their understanding when listening, which is essential when reading. Also, parents can try to figure out what their children are interested in, assist them in finding books that will be interesting and enjoyable, and spend time reading books together.
- Building more libraries – If Mauritius want to foster a reading culture, it should first increase access to books to people. Building and promoting public libraries can encourage more individuals to read.
- Shift to a digital mindset – Since youngsters are usually more interested in new technologies nowadays, promoting online reading materials such as books, articles or journals encourage them to read more. Additionally, digitalisation has made access to these reading materials easier.
Therefore, it can be said that it is vital to have a culture of reading in Mauritius. From improving vocabulary to improving academic performances, encouraging reading can benefit everyone.
Mansi Thaneswari Hursahye, YUVA Intern and Psychological Science student at Curtin University (Mauritius)