Neil Gaiman on the Future of Libraries

It’s only natural I feel that as a lover of books, one gets caught up in bookish currents no matter where, no matter how. Yesterday at work, I was hankering for a much-needed escapade from routine and I started reading this article on The Guardian about American author Neil Gaiman’s thoughts on the future of reading books and libraries.

Neil Gaiman has always astonished me with his imagination, his story-telling prowess (You must surely read ‘The Graveyard Book‘ to know what I’m talking about). But this interview documented few years ago totally blew me. Even as a kid, Neil Gaiman was very passionate about reading and he wishes to see the same in today’s kids. This was the central idea of his interview recorded on the web magazine and his views on the topic are real eye-openers. Here are some extracts of it that might interest you too.

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. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.

Read the full interview here.

What are your thoughts? What do you guys think how should children be encouraged today to read more than be glued to digital mediums?

-Asha Seth

23 thoughts on “Neil Gaiman on the Future of Libraries

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  1. I have vowed to go back to my quarterly book reports which involves having students start class with 10 minutes of SSR. I used to do this years ago and it was such a calm way to start the period. Instead of checking their Snapchat they can expand their brains with reading.

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  2. Well it’s a good idea but as you wrote in the last line digital mediums are taking over quiet ferociously.. so why not have the books in the medium nd read from there..

    Because with the growing technology I genuinely feel that what we call libraries today will soon vanish and taken over by electronic..

    I personally love the feeling of holding a book and turning a page to read.. but times are changing…

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    1. As a reader, I feel that the pull of physical books is much greater than that of electronic mediums. But yes, if we have beautiful illustrated versions of books, we should create a space for reading in the lives of the young kids. Seriously speaking, I doubt if libraries will ever run out of love of readers. What do you think?

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      1. Well to put things in perspective when I came to UK and the place we live had 4 libraries for each district .. I use to live on the border so had the pleasure of visiting any.. And now In 10 years time all 4 have gone.
        😑

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  3. My love affair with books started with fairy tales and amar chitra kathas. Reading habit should be inculcated young and Einstein is so right when he advises to give the kids fairy tales.

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    1. I truly believe that we are that fortunate generation that didn’t get caught in the digital storm. I started reading at an early age but it was only during summer break I was allowed to read. How I loved those days when I could escape with the book and not worry about going to school. It held a different charm. I agree with Einstein. The best way to get kids attracted to reading is magic and fairy tales. That’s something I admire Rowling for. She not only did create a magical world for kids, but instilled a love for reading like never before.

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  4. Oh, Asha, I love this! What a wonderful topic to bring up. It makes me so grateful that we have ALWAYS read to our children. My daughter is 9 and still prefers to be read to! She loves most stories, especially award winners, but her heart adores stories with animal characters; these are the stories she writes and illustrates too. Reading is so important and my mind was dancing as I read your takeaways from Neil’s analysis/thoughts on the ever importance of reading. It truly makes a world of difference for the health of the mind and that is why I made it my ultimate goal, when I was a home visitor for a Birth to 3 program I used to work for, to encourage reading. I suggested by exemplifying to parents how to read to their children and brought books to all my visits. I also showed parents ways to read a story in whatever way was most comfortable, just so they would open books and look at them with their babies/toddlers. Thanks for sharing, hope you are well and things are looking brighter for you, and keep reading/writing….we have to keep communicating with the dead and advancing our civilization! 💖☮️🌻, ~Anne

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    1. By contributing to the building of a healthy reading culture among kids, you are helping build a cultured, compassionate community, which I guess is badly needed today. What you are doing is just great and I truly appreciate you taking the special efforts of not just instilling the habit in your daughter, but also advising parents a much better way to go about doing it.
      I donate books to a school library where kids love to read but have no good books. I hope my contribution helps them.
      I have been doing well, my dear Anne. What about you?

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“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” ― James A. Michener

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