Indonesia’s citizens need to step up their game on reading interest. There are many reasons why this needs to happen. Indonesian, mostly kids to teens, have little interest in literature. Indonesians are also more interested in their phones than their books.

According to Central Connecticut State University‘s rank of World’s Most Literate Nations in 2016, Indonesia ranked 60 out of 61 countries, with Finland sitting at the top of the list and Botswana right below Indonesia. This is very disappointing. The list says that Indonesia’s rank for the “Libraries” category, which settled on a tie with Tunisia on 36.5. It is scored by how many libraries we have in total and I do agree that we have many libraries because we got many schools that have to have a library but honestly, I do not feel like we really use the libraries right. From my experience on almost 12 years of school, I used the library the most on Junior High School because of the very comfortable and organized environment of the library. Sadly, some students used the library, not for reading or searching for references for assignments but for sleeping or anything else than reading or doing assignments.

It is also very disappointing to see kids are more focused on their phones or social media. When I was still in elementary school, the smartphone wasn’t yet a trend and my friends and I usually play traditional games and I was kind of a book nerd. Borrowing and retrieving books one day each week, filling up my library card until the teacher had to replace it a few times. But now it is very sad to see kids holding their phones and gadgets, playing games, tweeting, posting on Instagram every day. Not that I don’t do that but I still can get my hands off of my phone just to read a novel and it excites me if I saw a kid with a book on their hands or plainly just not holding their phones as if it was their whole life. Unfortunately, that is a rare sighting nowadays. I would love to see more citizens to put down their phones and pick up their books.

According to Internet World Stats, Indonesia is sitting on number 5 out of 20 countries on their most internet users list. Why do we manage to sit on the top five of the most internet users but on the bottom two when it comes to our interest in literature? I use the internet, I mean who doesn’t? But I also love literature and if there are more people in Indonesia who loves both the internet and literature, the opportunity of us being a developed country soon enough is big. It will happen if we could expand our knowledge by taking interest in books because books are the window to the world.

For all these reasons, reading interest should be planted at a young age. It can be done by reading stories before bed, read a book instead of constantly checking on your phone and go to book festivals. Gladly, Indonesia has book festivals. For example, the Big Bad Wolf Book Sale that’s held annually and is now currently held on Surabaya. They sell imported books cheaper than when they sell it on the bookstores! Indonesia International Book Fair was also recently held on September 12th until 16th on Jakarta. But of course, it comes back to us on whether we want to finally step up our reading interest or not and if we do, it will be a breakthrough to a more successful country.

Photo via Burst by Shopify

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