Qaanitah Hunter - Cii News | September 4, 2012
Her early exposure to books is one of the many reasons author, Shafinaaz
Hassim, has an immense inclination to literature.
At just four years old, Hassim said, she would frequent the library with
her parents who are avid readers and sowed the culture of reading within
But Hassim laments that with the passage of time, this culture has lost its flair among the younger generation because of the diminishing value of reading and story telling.
“The Quran says Iqra, read. Why would something as a single word be so
specific to us (Muslims),” she said.
Hassim, who is also a poet and lecturer, said reading allows people to know
what is happening around them and be aware of the world they live in. She however blames parents for not instilling the love of reading within their kids adding, “if you are not reading your child won’t read.”
According to her, taking a child to a library, buying the newspaper and having some access to the internet are factors that are critical for the education of children.
“We need to get kids to be excited about reading- it opens you up to new
experiences. You won’t experience 18th century Europe in the middle of South
Africa but you can experience it through reading.”
Hassim noted that traditional book stores don’t only stock celebrated
international authors but there is a growing trend of South African authors
whose writings are very contemporary and relatable.
“There are fascinating ways to engage new readers (such as) changing school
syllabuses to put in more contemporary material,” she said, adding that
children must be aware of what reading can offer them and the extent to which that opens up a whole new world.
She further suggested that teachers encourage kids to read and write book reviews in a manner which is enjoyable and fun.
To ignite the love of books, Hassim said books should be given as gifts to
kids because “it is not about the book but the particular culture it
She further directed that parents should talk to their kids about current
affairs and their recent reads could be discussed on the dinner table, all
in the spirit of education.
Hassim said that initiatives such as National Book Week (taking place this
week) and projects such as the Cii Educating the Future campaign are all
positive in cultivating a future of readers and thinkers.