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The summer is almost over and I have observed that many people have engaged the library, including young children, to obtain books to read. One remembers fondly from the 70's to the late 80's many young men had a voracious appetite for Hardy Boys and the girls for Nancy Drew books.

These were all suspense- detective thrillers by Franklin Dixson and Carol Keen respectively. Of the over 60 novels written in the Hardy Boys series I, as many others I am sure, read almost the entire collection from the first Tower Treasure where Frank and Joe, the youthful detectives with friend Chet and girlfriend Lola, kept one glued to the pages.

Even when one could not get Hardy Boys books we resorted to Nancy Drews which were also intriguing but written from a girl's perspective.

Perhaps the Enid Blyton publications were the best as far as tailoring for both sexes were concerned as one would read for hours numerous publications of the Famous Five series making her one of the most famous children authors of all time.

The adult ladies in particular read Mills and Boons romance and some gentlemen loved Louis L'armour, the western writer.

Well, times have changed and there are eBooks, television and social media and very few young people read, compared to the past. And the impact can be heard in the language and expressions of today and has resulted in the low literacy levels and poorly written compositions or inadequate responses to comprehension papers at school.

I once had a discussion with some older folks who relished the poetry and recitation when they went to school because it fortified the mind and aided retention. Famous nursery rhymes such as "Thirty days have September/ April, June and November" that enables one to remember the number of days in every month as you may have to recite the entire rhyme just to remember dates.

Here I am not speaking of "Dan is the man in the van" or the "cow jump over the moon" which Sparrow was rightfully satirical of in Calypso. Rather these lines had real substance. I fondly remember the late Marigot Member of Parliament Pat Stevens or my own literature teacher, Ms Josephine Joseph, and their use of some famous quotes from Shakespeare that are still used today:

"If all the days were playing holidays,

to play, would be as tedious as to work"

"This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man."

"This above all: to thine own self be true."

"Conscience doth make cowards of us all."

These may be just one liners, but many of our elders can recite from memory extremely long quotations from Hamlet or Henry IV.

With all this texting & slangs today, literature, English and Shakespeare must suffer.

But what do we read today apart from the newspapers or having the news read to us or visualised on TV? My research showed up the following: Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele are among the leading books borrowed by females at the Public Library. That is a combination of romance and intrigue respectively.

Meanwhile, the men have graduated from Hardy Boys to adult thrillers and suspense written by James Patterson, John Grisham and Lee Child. I must say I am fascinated by James Patterson and have been recently introduced to Grisham and Child.

Patterson writes very short intriguing chapters which spurs you to read on as every good book should. The ability of this award-winning author to weave intricate pieces of evidence, present anti-climatic scenes and to vividly paint and conjure imagery of people, places and events is unrivalled, to my mind.

As an "old schooler", I still love to turn the pages and mark them with "dog ears' to return to the page I left. With tablets and eBooks etc. I do not see many students making use of these techniques when they research.

Let me reiterate that reading impacts positively on language, on discussions & debates, on ideas, on tolerance, on knowledge, on introspection.

I firmly hold the view that reading is one of the greatest contributors to the development of the mind. According to Richard Steele: "Reading to the mind is just what exercise is to the body". Just as one runs, lifts weights and diets to achieve a sense of physical wellbeing, so too the imagination must be stretched into the metaphoric use of language , improved vocabulary, new cultures and stimulate new ideas and opinions to create a well rounded individual. So students, parents: find a book and read!


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