PRAJESH SJB RANA
Literature has always helped young people turn more creative and is still considered a vital part of child development that sparks understanding. Children’s literature has also helped a lot of children draw out a clearer picture of the world helping them understand their surroundings. It also seems to help young children come to terms with life morals and ethics but it seems that in Nepali society today, parents are prioritizing English literature over Nepali. Children’s stories in English do help a child’s developmental process but they seem to negate the fact that Nepali literature is more attached to their own society and that local stories can help children understand their environment better than western stories.
The Nepali children’s literature scene seems to be coming up with many writers choosing to write for children. People seem to be realizing that their children need to be exposed to more Nepali stories because of the decline in Nepali language.
“Nepali children’s literature may not be as popular as we want it to be but there are definitely more children’s writers coming up in Nepal,” says children’s novelist Pradeep Pradhan, author of Jangalko Ramilo Katha and Ghamandi Bhangeri, among others. “We need to realize that children’s stories are a very important part of literature because these stories help young children understand. Writers are writing about science or about fantasy that helps these young children’s creativity and their understanding of the world that surrounds them. We need to realize that these stories are as important as parenting when it comes to child development,” he informs.
As important as Nepali literature may be to children, they seem to find more entertainment in technology rather than within the pages of a book. Children these days can be seen watching TV for hours on end or painting pictures on the computer or fiddling around with their parent’s smart phones rather than spending their time imagining and reading. In some ways, technology also inspires creativity but at a time when children should be spending their time reading, technology could hamper child psychology in a negative way.
“Technology has come a long way through the ages and has helped people a lot with what they do. It’s easier to get things done with the help of technology but the negative side to it is that young children are very susceptible to getting addicted to technology,” says Bijay Raj Acharya, Managing Director at Bibek Shrijanshil Prakashan. Acharya has also written many children’s novels like Shantiko Aatma Katha, Naya Basti, Hamro Aawaz and Ujjyaloko Khojma. “Children build up their whole image of the world when they are young and technology can help children understand their environment as well but it does not induce independent or creative thinking. Children are the future of the nation and we need to make sure that our future generation grows up well and this is where I think the government is least bothered with. Unless the government realizes the importance of children’s literature, and even parents properly understand its importance, I don’t think Nepali children’s literature will grow very well,” he adds.
Parents also need to be well informed enough to provide literature to children. In the recent scenario, parents are happy as long as their children perform well in school and totally disregard the creative side of their development. Also parents seem to be prioritizing English over Nepali and although many parents do make their children read children’s books, they usually are western stories in English. This culture of focusing more on English rather than Nepali has also hampered the children’s literature culture in Nepal because people only seem to want to buy English novels for their children but Nepali writers seem to argue that children are already exposed to English so much at school. They are forced to speak in English and even their textbooks are all in English, so parents should understand that children need to be exposed to some form of Nepali literature to help them get more familiar with it.
“People should realize that English is not knowledge, it’s more of a medium and so is Nepali. English has turned more into a fashion statement and people are okay with buying expensive English books for their children but when it comes to buying a Nepali novel, they whine about the expensiveness of the book,” says Bijay Chalise who worked for Gorkhapatra for 30 years before he moved to writing novels. Chalise has also contributed a lot to Nepali children’s literature by translating Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” into Nepali and also with many of his own novels like Mangal Grahama Bigyan, Harayeko Murti and Hamro Waripariko Bigyan. He has also been teaching for 25 years at Pashupati Campus and many of his books are related to science and technology.
“By focusing more on English, we are shunning our own culture and in this day and age, it’s more important to help our children learn Nepali. Also, the whole concept of literature is moving towards a negative side nowadays, writers just focus on the packaging of their books. They want a colorful cover and illustrations so that children want it but most of these books don’t have good content. Writers just want to sell their books and that’s a very wrong road to go because we, as writers, want to provide information and education to children, not just earn money,” he adds.
source:Rana, Prajesh SJb(2012),"Literature vital for child development ", republica,11 July 2012
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