In a world that offers a child so many entertainments, raising children in this time and age has never been an easy task. We should not expect it to be so as we are inundated daily with stuff that distract children easily. In order to enable our children to become a part of a society that is conscious of being human, in order to allow them to serve Allah with conscience, in order for them to be dutiful to their communities and family, WE need to teach them.
A device or movie will not teach our children the important lessons that they need to know in order to be well rounded individuals and Muslims who are aware of what peace and justice are, faithful beings who live by the truth and will never swear by a lie. Souls who are always repenting and never boastful. A book cannot do all of this but it will most certainly aid you, aid parents to instil and teach our children the morals and values that they need to be all of the above and more.
The love of reading is one of the most influential gifts we can give children. Teaching children to read is vital but they must also learn to love books and know its importance.
Books help children understand themselves
We read books to find out who we are. When I was young I knew I wanted to be a poet and author after falling in love with Chinua Achebe, Harun Yahya, J.D Salinger.
When children are asked what they want to be in future they would likely want to be like a favourite character in a book or in a movie. Also the experience learnt in a book always help children to deal with bullying, terrorism, and fear of growing up.
Books develop language and the brain
Books are an essential part of a child’s intellectual development. I learnt my first word in Spanish “Hola, Como es usted” from a book.
Scientifically, the brain changes when we learn to read: it has billions of neurons which connect with each other. This brain plasticity enables us to learn to read: the brain creates new pathways and these then become the basis for innovative thinking. Reading and thinking actually enhance each other.
Books expose children to the world
Books expose children to new ideas and help to shape their world view. In good literature, children discover the wider world. There is a meeting of minds, from far off places and times, good and evil, rich and poor.
For example in the book “Story of the Caliphs” children are exposed to how the caliphs like Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali lived their lives as pious and patient muslims.
Books develop children’s imagination
At their best, they (books) expand horizons and instil in children a sense of the wonderful complexity of life.
Reading helps us imagine. TV, movies and computers offer ready-made imagery (from someone else’s imagination) and are less likely to engage deeper thinking. Good books offers children a gateway to perfect unique experiences where ants can talk and monkeys can cook themselves.
Books are enjoyable.
Learning to read is fine but ultimately a child must want to read. The child who reads for pleasure is forming a wonderful habit. We encourage this desire by providing good books. Nothing can distract a child from a good book: not sleep, TV, cartoon or conversation.
Books are better form of learning
Reading is active, watching is passive. The written word is immersive, the screen affectless. The level of character and world-building detail in a book surpasses anything ever captured on film or television. Books allow a level of escapism that nothing else quite permits. When I was young, I could be one of the Railway Children, an ant, a friend to Oliver twist, a character in the book chronicles of Narnia, all without leaving my bedroom.
There is a wealth of books for us to read and learn from just as there is a mountain more of books that our children will love and learn from, at times when we do not have the answers, or we do but cannot simplify it for their young minds, then a book, the right book can help us to do the explaining.
In the Muslim world today there are many books written and many more being written, we need to search and gain access to them. Don’t stop there, morals and values have been written into many of the old children’s classics. They are classic for a reason, they were written with a message for the mind and heart. There is no excuse as to why we cannot raise well balanced children, no matter the climate or community they are growing up in. A God fearing soul is nurtured through sincere practice, an imagination is watered with words, an enriched soul is fed with lots of good BOOKS!
I understand that we are now inundated with too much entertainment, and children’s reading habits have become fragmented to some degree by cartoons and TV shows. I get it. But Books, to me, are powerful and transforming. Am grateful to my parents especially my mother for teaching me the importance of reading at a very young age because that was the beginning of a lifelong journey in which books would shape and change me, making me who I was to become.
Books strengthened my spirit when it was about to be broken by bullies at school, so many books I read like Oliver Twist allowed me to see thousands of lives and attitudes in the society. This helped me define who I am and who I am not. Books gave me perspective, hope and confidence. They made me less afraid then and they buttress me still whenever I’m in danger of falling.
‘Recite: in the name of thy Lord who createth’! (The holy Quran)- [96:1]
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