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Reading remains a good habit among New Zealanders



The world comes alive in a few pages (INL Image)

Praneeta Mahajan
Hamilton, March 30, 2023

Reading books has been a cherished pastime for centuries. While other forms of media, such as social media and online news outlets, have risen in popularity in recent years, reading books remains an important habit for many.

But with all talk about AI models, online portals which bring relevant information to your fingertips, and even targeted information being filtered and sent your way through advanced algorithms, does a book still serve any purpose or is it an obsolete tool of knowledge?

Indian Newslink wanted to explore the question of whether reading books is still a relevant habit in New Zealand.

Statistics of Books

According to a 2021 survey conducted by ‘Booksellers NZ,’ the New Zealand book industry generated $560 million in sales in 2020, a 7% increase from the previous year. This indicates that reading books are still a popular activity in New Zealand, despite the rise of digital media. In addition, the survey found that 60% of New Zealanders read for pleasure, with an average of 6.9 books read per year. This shows that reading books are still a relevant habit for many people in New Zealand.

Another survey conducted by Colmar Brunton found that 70% of New Zealanders believe that reading books is an important way to improve their knowledge and skills. This survey also found that 67% of New Zealanders believe that reading books is important for children’s education. These statistics suggest that reading books is still considered a valuable habit in New Zealand.

Reading books is a life skill and a support system for all situations (INL Image)

Expert Comments

Numerous experts have weighed in on the question of whether reading books is still a relevant habit. Tessa Duder, author and children’s literature expert: “The internet is great for research and fact-checking, but for entertainment, relaxation, empathy and emotional connection, nothing beats reading a good book.”

Dr Tara McAllister, a literacy researcher said, “Reading books provides a unique experience that other forms of media simply cannot replicate. It allows us to slow down, focus and immerse ourselves in the story.”

Paula Morris, author and literary festival director said, “Reading books is a way to access other perspectives, other worlds, other lives. It is essential for developing empathy and understanding.”

Reading books is not only relevant but also essential for our cognitive development and emotional well-being. Books provide a unique experience that cannot be replicated by digital media, and they allow us to access different perspectives and understandings.

Neil Gaiman, a renowned author said, “Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over.”

Maryanne Wolf, a cognitive neuroscientist sums it up by adding, “I think that it is essential that children be exposed to print books. It is essential that they learn how to read books in print as well as digitally. We need to have the best of both worlds.”

Benefits of Reading Books

Reading books has numerous benefits, some of which are not available through other forms of media.

Improved cognitive function: Reading books has been shown to improve cognitive function, including vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills.

Reduced stress: Reading books can be a great way to reduce stress and unwind after a long day. It has a calming effect on the mind and body, similar to meditation.

Increased empathy: Reading books can help us develop empathy by exposing us to different perspectives and experiences. This can help us understand and relate to others better.

Improved memory: Reading books requires us to remember characters, plot lines, and other details. This can improve our memory and cognitive function over time.

While other forms of media have certainly changed the way we consume information, books remain an important part of our cultural heritage and cognitive development. They provide unique benefits that cannot be replicated by other forms of media. Therefore, we must continue to value and promote the habit of reading books, especially among children and young adults, in New Zealand.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink reporter based in Hamilton.

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