Wednesday, March 08, 2006

TV v/s Reading

When it comes to getting children to read, it is often parents versus the television.

Unfortunately, the TV usually comes out the winner. If parents want their children to put down the remote and pick up a book, they must find ways to outsmart the boob tube.

The Jakarta Post asked people for their thoughts on the issue.

Aulia Rachman, 25, is an event organizer with her own company in Kalibata, South Jakarta. She lives with her husband and son in Pasar Minggu, also in South Jakarta:

I love books, and I always spend a large percentage of my income on books, from novels to books on politics, management, philosophy and international relations.

For me, reading is enlightening and fun at the same time. Many times, when I read a very good book I feel liberated. You can't put a value on that feeling. I am addicted to reading. If I don't read every day I feel like a part of my life is missing.

A philosopher, Erasmus, if I'm not mistaken, said he would buy books before food. When I first heard this I thought it was silly, but now I fully understand what he meant.

Unfortunately, most Indonesians can't appreciate books because they have to struggle just to fill their stomachs. I can understand this. I mean, how can you read with an empty stomach. The economic situation here is killing the domestic book industry because fewer and fewer people are buying books. They prefer to watch TV, to forget about the difficulty of their lives for a few hours.

I just hope the economy will improve and people will start buying books again.

Nona W. Suharto, 44, is a freelance writer and a housewife. She lives in Kalisari, East Jakarta:
Reading is a habit for my family. My parents were quite strict about that. Me and my three siblings were not allowed to watch television. My parents didn't even buy a television until we were all in high school. It was in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I remember my father saying he did not want to see us wasting our time in front of the boob tube.

He had a library and we were allowed to read his books. He was a journalist so he had an extensive collection. My mother was a teacher and although I rarely saw her reading, she supported my father's position on the TV. She encouraged us to read in her own way.
We often went to state publishing company Balai Pustaka, because one of my uncles worked there and he let us pick out any books we wanted.

I have tried to do the same with my son, but times have changed and it's much harder to do that now. He loves watching cartoons on TV and now he prefers working and playing on his computer. My husband hooked his computer up to the Internet so now he sits for hours surfing the Net.

Not buying a TV wasn't really an option because all the neighbors have them. If my son couldn't watch TV at home, he would just go and watch it at a neighbor's house.


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