By Zarah C. Gagatiga, Teacher Librarian, Author, Blogger, and Storyteller
I am writing this in an age of bizarre conditions and uncertainty.
Never in my life did I dream of living in and during a pandemic. This is the stuff I only read in history books. The Black Plague. The Spanish Flu. Outbreaks of Cholera in the 1800s. These are global health catastrophes that drastically and dramatically changed the way people lived. Such phenomena shape the way people think, imagine, and relate with each other. Indeed, the COVID-19 contagion is transforming varied aspects of our lives.
We are paying more attention to keeping ourselves healthy. We grapple with strategies to cope and survive the isolation that comes with lockdown and quarantine. We battle fake news and misinformation every day. We come face to face with ethical and social issues that affect local, national, and global systems. From politics to education, trade and industry, and science and technology, this virus that is novel and new is bringing out the best and the worst in us.
As an author and teacher-librarian, I find myself counting the possibilities and opportunities for growth, development, and yes, even nourishment that the COVID-19 pandemic brings. There is loss all around. There is grief. But there is also healing. There are acts of kindness and compassion all around. We see this happening in many ways and in many forms.
For one, there is an explosion of stories, information, and resources for learning. The variety of reading materials available online spills over our social media feeds, email inboxes, and chat groups. Many of these reading materials are created with the themes of the current times. Relevant as they are, we still need to select and evaluate them carefully and responsibly.
This is why books––and reading, are so dear to me. They are all around us and it allows us to make choices.
Books either in print or electronic format are mirrors we see ourselves in as well as the world we live in. The characters that populate our favorite storybooks and novels become our friends. We admire authors and in our eyes, they are rockstars. In some stroke of magic, we know that we are not alone. In books and reading, we are never in isolation. So let us turn to stories, to books and to reading in these bizarre and uncertain times.
Tell a story. Pick up a book. Read. Discover new things. Spark your curiosity. And if books and reading stirred you to write your own story, just go and do it. I assure you these things will see us through a raging pandemic.
Zarah is our Dear Guest Reader for the month of August, celebrating Buwan ng Wika with us here on Dear Books by highlighting local writers and illustrators.
Shop Zarah's books here on Dear Books: