As you and I both know, the reading culture in Kuwait is practically nonexistent. However, this only applies to a group of people. The popularity of bookstores such as Jarir and Q8 Books is proof of a community of avid readers. Is that enough, though? Of course not! We need more. There is, indeed, no questioning whether Kuwait should have more bookstores and libraries because, no matter what, the answer is always going to be “Yes!”
Now, this might get you thinking, why should the government invest in this? Children today are just going through the motions of everyday life. They spend most of their time, and when I say “most” I mean almost every single hour of the day, playing games on laptops, phones, iPads, etc. I won’t be surprised if they play with their iPads in their sleep. It is the government’s duty to instill a reading habit in the people, and it is our duty as citizens to carry it on.
You could go to Goodreads.com, check how many people in Kuwait use that website and you’ll find the results outstanding. Therefore, the size of such a “movement” is bigger than what most people might have expected. There is a market, so why not invest in it and let it grow bigger? We certainly do need more bookstores and libraries because two, or three, or whatever the number is, are not enough. We don’t even get the latest books.
In order for this to work out, the Ministry of Information should take action as well. I’m talking about the censorship department here. I remember, once, reading an article in which it claimed that the employees who are in charge of reading books in order to determine whether or not they should be banned don’t even read some books. This is completely wrong! How can you ban a book if you don’t have any justifications to do so? I also read another article, which was about the citizens who protested at last year’s Kuwait Book Fair, and I remember clearly that one of them said that banning books, here in Kuwait, isn’t based on any criteria or standards whatsoever; and most importantly, a Liberal MP once said, “it is a breach of the constitution, which does not apply restrictions on the freedom of speech.” But I’m sure we can work it through if we put our heads together.
In spite of all of this, there will be people who will object, and these people would have thoughts like kids won’t pay attention to books because they’ve got their video games, children should have fun and be active not sit around all day and read, why don’t you look for something else to invest in like restaurants because food is more important than books, etc. Well here’s the answer for you, mate: WE DON’T NEED ANYMORE RESTAURANTS AND FAST FOOD CHAINS IN THIS COUNTRY! For a short period of time, Kuwait was number one, worldwide, in terms of obesity. So, it’s a no for that.
There are lots of things that we can do to encourage people to read, no matter how old or how young they are. Here are some examples:
1) Knowledge Taxis: This practical project started in Cairo, Egypt in 2010 in association with Alef Bookstores. Their main focus was to get people to read by placing books in taxis so people can read whilst stuck in traffic jams.
2) Schools should take an initiative in making reading fun for kindergarten students.
3) Parents should read to their children before bed because it not only calms them down and helps them to get a good night’s sleep, it also helps them understand the language and with strengthen their spelling skills. Apart from that, they could specify a certain amount of time during the day in which kids can actually read along with the parent.
So, in short, we need more bookstores! This is a wake up call, for the great benefit of this generation and all the generations to come. We need more brilliant minds not fried brains.
– Ayat Abdulla