Reading is one of the most important values you can pass on to your children. If, by chance, your parents have passed on the love for reading to you, then you are blessed with a lifetime source of good things.
Reading is a habit that gives more knowledge, upgrades one’s professional skills, and enhances socialization.
We may be late by a few days to mark the significance of reading as November was National Reading Month, and National Book Week was also held in the third week of that month. But emphasizing the value of reading is not bounded by time.
When we paused to pay tribute of our hero, Andres Bonifacio, two days ago, we could not help relating the importance of reading to his life.
Bonifacio was born in Manila, in a small hut on what is now Claro M. Recto Avenue in Tondo, on Nov. 30, 1863, to poor parents. Some records say his father was a government official. He grew up as many eldest siblings did, and will continue to do because of poverty and the strong Filipino value of responsibility for family – he gave up schooling to take care of five siblings after his parents passed away when he was barely 14 years old.
What educated Bonifacio was his love for reading. When he worked as a warehouse man for a tile factory in Sta. Mesa, the Spanish owner was said to have recalled that Bonifacio was a “voracious reader and had a book popped open in front of him even while he was eating lunch,” according to Nick Joaquin’s “A Question of Heroes.”
Some of the books he read were on the French revolution, “The lives of the Presidents of the United States.” and “the daring writings of the propagandists.”
From reading, Bonifacio gathered enough knowledge about governance, abuse of power, and with that he pursued a plan to fight for freedom despite the odds he faced. That is the freedom we enjoy today, which came from a knowledge fueled by a love for reading.
It is often disappointing to hear people say in casual conversation that they do not care to read or don’t have the interest to read through long articles. They prefer to go through headlines and social media memes and art cards. It is interesting that they are the same people who complain a lot about disinformation in social media. I do not have the time to point out that if you do not read whole articles, how can you get the whole story from a headline or a social media art card?
Reading is a habit that takes time to develop. It starts from the home. If children do not see their parents read, how will they get introduced to reading? I wonder if there are still many parents who take time to read to their children before they sleep. Or is that left to TV or Netflix to entertain the kids before bed?
I am not only lucky, but blessed, to have parents who valued reading. My mother introduced me to Shakespeare when I was in grade school. The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, and King Lear were the stories she read to me.
My father always had a book somewhere beside him. He subscribed to two weekly news magazines – Time and Newsweek—and purchased every other coffee table book that was sold to him. We also had at least two daily newspapers in the house.
When I moved out of his house and he discovered that I had stopped buying Time magazine because I said it cost P10 per copy, he asked me if I had a P10-bill. When I gave him a P10-bill, he asked me to read it. “What did you learn from reading that bill?” he asked.
To this day, that thought is what pushes me to buy a book, even if I think its price will take away money meant for other bills.