Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Harry Potter - reading habits of kids

An interesting article about the magical effect of Harry Potter on kids' reading habits.

After reading the piece, I kept pondering what really shaped my own reading habits when I was a kid. I vaguely remember reading "chandamama" in telugu and english. Other monthly story books that I read included "balamitra", "balajyothi" which were both in telugu. My english stories came from Tinkle and of course, the ubiquitous Amar Chitra Katha. I am sure a generation of Indian kids will thank Uncle Pai for introducing us to the complex mythological characters from our epics and puranas in an easy to understand fashion.

Finally, I should also mention that a small pay-for-rent book store near my house called R.K Library, where R.K stands for the owner Rashid Khan for the bulk of my adolescent and adult reading habits. His collection was enormous, given that his store was a ramshackle. Asterix, Tintin and every other character you could think of was present in the store - all organized and ready to be picked up. All the noveslists were on the walls - forsyth, sheldon, archer, ludlum - everyone. I was hooked onto that store and stayed a loyal customer for more than 9 years.

Finally, the point I am trying to make is that reading is a cultured habit. You start with small stories and slowly move to big ones. It has to happen over a number of years with simple short stories to begin with and complex ones as kids grow older. For a generation of american kids who were always poor at reading, a complex series of books with convoluted evolving plots (read the Harry Potter series) is not going to change anything.

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