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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Columnist: Daniel Ofosu-Asamoah

Read books and preserve knowledge – Commemorating ‘World Book and Copyright Day’

Reading is fundamental to education and necessary for the development of every nation. Any society which ensures a culture of reading for its members creates a society that is well informed, creative and conscious of preserving knowledge.

It is in view of this that every year, April 23 is earmarked for the celebration of “World Book and Copyright Day” by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The day symbolises the value the United Nations (UN) and the players of the book industry place on reading. The importance of reading is also highlighted in the new education reforms in Ghana by the government, by putting literacy and numeracy in Basic schools high on the curriculum.

As the strength of a nation is dependent on its human growth and development, it is important that the people who make up the nation acquire the necessary ingredients that propel the growth of the nation.

The development of the human capital of every nation has a direct correlation with the pace at which the nation grows and develops. Reading is one of the major means of feeding a nation with the knowledge required for sustained growth and development.

On a day earmarked for the celebration of “World Book and Copyright Day”, the Ghana Book Development Council (GBDC) is reminding all– teachers, parents, children, and other stakeholders in education – of the benefit of reading.

Books contain the experiences, creativity and knowledge acquired by people who have spent time to put their thoughts together. Not only do writers inform or tell the general public of their experiences, creative abilities and studies, but they also ensure that knowledge is preserved for future use, guidance and reference.

Society gets the benefits of books when it cultivates a lifelong culture of reading. When this habit is nurtured, one gets access to a variety of knowledge from the finest brains and experiences of writers. The conclusion is that the more one reads, the more one gets access to wider knowledge and information. This is because one comes across numerous writers with a variety of experiences.

As Rene Descartes, a famous French philosopher, mathematician and scientist, puts it, “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.”

This is also corroborated by Carl Sagan, an astronomer and author, who said, “One glance at a book and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for 1,000 years. To read is to voyage through time.”

In effect, one is not only informed about what is going on around him or her, or about the past and the future events, but also, more importantly, stands the chance of preserving all the knowledge acquired through reading.

Knowledge which sit in books written through painstaking moments by authors are also preserved. Precious information go waste when books are not read. Jules Verne, a prolific French author, decried the practice where books are stored in cupboards without being read by stating:

“We are of opinion that instead of letting books grow mouldy behind an iron grating, far from the vulgar gaze, it is better to let them wear out by being read.”

Writers also employ their creative prowess to create their own world or scenarios, with the objective of putting a particular message across or entertaining society. Therefore, when one reads, one stands the chance of acquiring precious knowledge in life: knowledge in Science, Culture, History, Economics, Hygiene, and many more. All these knowledge and experiences acquired through reading help a person to be objective in his or her judgement. Again, reading also makes one confident.

It is important that the right materials or books are read, as a person is largely made up of what he or she reads. That is to say that the books one reads have the potential to influence him or her in one way or the other.

For this reason, it is important that parents, guardians and stakeholders in education help children and the entire society get access to the right books from the right places. Parents and guardians, especially, must visit libraries and book shops where books are sold or rented to acquire books that meet the needs and maturity level of their wards.

This is to ensure that children get access to the right set of books to read. In many countries, like Ghana, a lot of efforts are being made to promote books of high standards, and it is important that every book lover takes note of this.

To conclude, it is important that we inculcate the habit of reading among children early in their formative period, as the impact on their studies and lives is enormous. That period, the formative stage, is the most fertile and critical period for habit formation. Here, too, parents have a critical role to play, and we agree with Emilie Buchwald, an editor, poet, teacher, and award-winning children’s author, that, “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.”

As we celebrate the “World Book and Copyright Day”, today, we join Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, First Lady of the United States of America during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, to say: “There are many little ways to enlarge your child’s world. Love of books is the best of all.”