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Fostering a Reading Culture in the Tech-Savvy Generation

Books provide knowledge, understanding, and a comprehensive view of life, helping “”humans live more humanely”” (Karl Marx). Therefore, reading books is an essential need in human life. However, in the era of information technology and the explosion of audio-visual media, reading habits have changed compared to the past and are now overshadowed by audio-visual culture.

Books are an inexhaustible treasure, encapsulating the wisdom and knowledge of humanity through generations. They enrich readers with knowledge and understanding of all life aspects, offering life and work experiences, and nurturing thoughts, emotions, aesthetics, and reasoning. Through specific skills and methods in reading, each individual forms a knowledge base to best address life’s challenges. The endless utility of books has made reading a historical and culturally significant practice across various eras, marking societal development milestones in economics, politics, culture, science, and technology. Reading books has become an indispensable need for individual and societal growth. As Barack Obama said, “”Reading is important. If you know how to read, then the whole world opens up to you.”” And Mahatma Gandhi remarked, “”You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.””

Before the advent of audio-visual media, the internet, and social networks, books were the shortest path to accessing information, culture, and knowledge. However, with the rise of modern audio-visual media, especially the surge in information technology and the Industrial Revolution 4.0, people have gradually shifted from traditional books and newspapers to these modern mediums. This shift has made reading culture less appealing, particularly among the youth who are increasingly reluctant to read books. The reading culture is being overshadowed by audio-visual culture. The importance of book reading and its cultural significance have never been discussed as much as today, with alarming statistics and predictions being made. Hence, how to revive and rejuvenate the reading culture has become a challenging and intriguing issue, attracting societal attention.

The advent of the internet and the development of social networks have significantly impacted all aspects of human life, including the way we read and acquire knowledge through books. Traditional reading culture is being overshadowed by the trend of using the internet and audio-visual media. However, digital technology also opens up opportunities for us to access an endless source of knowledge through the internet, thereby stimulating and facilitating the organization of activities to develop reading culture, especially among the youth. The 4.0 revolution not only presents challenges but also offers many opportunities for reading culture; here, infrastructure and IT knowledge are key factors driving the new phase of reading culture. Therefore, we shouldn’t worry too much about challenges, but rather recognize the opportunities to develop suitable policies for promoting and developing reading culture in the context of digital transformation. Those who fail to keep up with the trend of digital transformation will be left behind. In Vietnam, developing a reading culture in the current context is a complex task, requiring multiple synchronized solutions involving various factors.

It is essential to educate people, especially the youth, about the importance of books, particularly valuable ones, as ignoring them can lead to significant knowledge gaps. Each book, with its author’s experiences, opens up new, beautiful, and humanistic values. It encapsulates the essence and priceless knowledge of humanity. Therefore, anyone who wants to explore the world, expand their horizons and succeed should not overlook reading books. Reading also nourishes the soul, forming noble characters, and eliminating unethical, insensitive, and harmful behaviors. Moreover, it’s crucial to understand that individual readers contribute to a reading community, eventually creating a cultured society.

To develop a reading culture, reading books must become an indispensable habit and a cultural trait in individual, family, and community life. Reading should be a necessary routine, part of family traditions and national cultural standards. This requires creating a conducive environment for reading, building reading habits from within families, schools, organizations, and communities. In each family, parents must be conscious of reading and pass this habit on to their children, sharing books between parents and children, encouraging, and spending time for reading. Schools should educate students, especially from primary level, on reading skills and habits, including methods of reading, accessing books, purposeful reading (for study, research, entertainment), criteria for selecting worthwhile books, and providing a yearly reading list. Widespread reading movements in organizations, institutions, and communities, organizing book reading competitions, recognizing individuals and organizations contributing to book development and reading culture are also vital. Book fairs and book streets play a role in developing the environment and strength of the reading culture.

Importantly, library systems must digitize books and documents, use the internet for easy access to publications; regularly update quality books on websites and electronic portals for direct reading via phones, computers; use audio-visual media to introduce and promote works effectively. Libraries should be centers for disseminating books, bringing mobile books to everyone; using smart devices for reading programs, building dynamic, rich, and free online reading sites for students; actively expanding networks, bringing books to schools; developing national reading promotion policies for digital era adaptation. The library sector needs to attract attention, contributions, and support from the publishing sector, organizations, associations, businesses, and individuals passionate about reading culture; actively promote a broad, robust reading culture. In summary, to maintain reading culture in the digital age, it is crucial to connect and develop all elements synchronously: libraries, publishing, and both printed and electronic books.

An equally important solution is that publishers, printing houses, and distributors play a central role in national reading culture development. Publishers, printers, and distributors need to improve the quality of content and form of publications to meet the growing reading demands; support and invest in encouraging writing, publishing books for children, ethnic minorities; select publishing topics, manuscripts, book types, materials, and formats that meet public demand; increase circulation, price books affordably for the majority to stimulate sales; actively participate in domestic and international book fairs to reach a broader audience. Besides traditional publishing, publishers should adapt IT in publishing e-books.

In the current context, developing a reading culture is an urgent, long-term task with profound significance for the country’s prosperity. Therefore, it’s not only the consciousness and responsibility of individuals but also the entire society. Hopefully, organizing the Vietnam Book and Reading Culture Day 2022 with the theme “”Reviving culture and developing reading culture”” will contribute to promoting the reading movement and developing a strong, widespread reading culture in the community, thereby forming a cultured society.

(Source: Báo Lâm Đồng)

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