I visited Tulika Publishers to purchase books for Jhoola. I fell in love with almost all their books for the beautiful and variety of illustrations that their books had. The stories as such are not great, there is no story at all in some books yet I ended up purchasing some of them for the beautiful illustrations the books had. I was so excited to see how the children would react looking at the illustrations. After all, books open up a magical world to children where their imagination can just run wild and with these beautiful illustrations, I thought there was no stopping them!
There are no words to describe the disappointment I faced after I introduced these books to the children. Almost none of the children bothered to pay any attention to any of the illustrations. All they did was read out the few sentences in the pages in a hurry to say “Finished”! They did not pause or take time to understand the sentence or check the colourful illustrations that accompanied the sentences. All they wanted to do was “finish” reading as many books as they can in as short a span of time as possible.
Even though I went next to each child and encouraged them to take a look at the illustrations it was of no use. I clearly told them that there is no hurry to finish the book and asked them to enjoy reading, but they were just not able to do it. Now, I can’t blame these children for being the way they are. The system that everyone of us is a part of is the culprit here!
What do we teach children – Run, Run, Run, don’t look sideways, don’t lose focus, keep running till you reach first for which you don’t even have to know the destination. What else do we teach – Finish first – Finish fast; Life is a never-ending race and you should always come first in everything; Never lose – Losing is a deadly sin; Read Fast; Write Fast; Learn Fast!
Do we ever ask our children to enjoy what they do? Do we ever let them stop, explore and ask questions? Do we encourage them to think even inside the box? A big NO is the answer unfortunately. How many children enjoy Science classes or any other subject that they learn? Even hobbies are forced. Music, Dance, Arts, Crafts ; everything becomes a part of the system, that they fail to understand that these are activities that can be enjoyed.
Sometimes I feel, children don’t really enjoy watching TV or playing games, they do it again just to while away time. There is no real fun there as well because they don’t know what fun is! Hence, unfortunately, today’s children think reading a story book is not for fun but just another activity in the maddening race that they have to complete fast! It is so sad to see this and it is not an easy task at hand for anybody to bring even a small change in this maddening system.
If only children were encouraged to pause, take a look at the world around, explore and enjoy what they do, their childhood will teach them much more than any system could, ever!