Mohammed Hassim has been a mentor to Morocco Library Project since the beginning and is the judge of the MLP Short Story Competition. We love this foreword he wrote for our anthology of stories from the 2022 Competition.
by Mohammed Hassim
Reading, as I see it, is the mother of all skills. It is an enabling skill that significantly helps in developing other personality and life skills. It is the skill that alone can contribute to the development of one’s personality and inspire one to produce creative and distinctive things. Therefore, books are the product of human genius. Distinguished people in human history have put their ideas and experiences into books. Likewise, most important films in the history of cinema were based on written novels. Moreover, throughout human history, human experiences and thoughts have travelled through space, time, and conscience via books. It is not surprising, then, that books are the most important human invention ever created by man.
Unfortunately, reading and books today, with the massive invasion of the culture of easy consumption through technological means that many people do not use effectively, have become marginalized in today's world. Unlike in the past, before the invasion of information technology, young students used to read voraciously, and did not question the importance of reading and books; otherwise, he/she
would be called ignorant. Nowadays, children and youth find it difficult to sit for an hour or two with a book in their hands and get absorbed with it in thought, sense, and imagination. Therefore, it has become the duty of our schools and educational curricula to make books and reading a vital and essential activity. It is necessary to create lively libraries of books in which reading is the core and central activity. Libraries should not be places to stock books on shelves. Libraries should be a vivid context where individuals exchange ideas about books and writers, analyze, debate, watch, write, and innovate based on what they read.
We have to make reading a compulsory activity and every educated person’s obligation towards one’s country and its citizens. Unfortunately, reading and writing have become somewhat alien to our societies. If we do not make the required efforts to impose them, the present and the future of our civilization will be shaky. He who reads books is not the same as he who does not. All the eminent people in this world are readers par excellence, and all writers and creators are reading enthusiasts and addicts. When you sit with someone who reads much, you will definitely benefit and learn. Avid readers make extensive use of their minds and imagination. They are certainly extraordinary people for their deep thoughts, critical minds, and creative imaginations. They utter wisdom when they speak. They are attracted to details, scrutinize them, look beyond phenomena, and penetrate into the depths. This is what they have developed through their love of books and reading. The reader is a mobile library, and the young reader is today’s creator and future writer.
From this reader-writer dichotomy, I remember a verse from a poem by the famous English poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850): "The Child is Father of the Man." This might also be true when we say: “The reader is father of the writer.” As the number of readers decreases in a society, the number of writers and creators also decreases as a result. The opposite is also true.
The current collection of writings is evidence of the tight relationship between reading and writing. These young writers are surely passionate readers in the first place, and writing is a byproduct of their love for books and reading. Therefore, encouraging them to publish and share their writings is a good example of encouraging reading and writing and inspiring other youth to get involved in writing creatively. I am sure that many readers of this collection of stories will inspire others to write, create, and share ideas and imaginations.
To all the writers of this collection, I say “Bravo!” and I urge them to continue reading and writing, and to keep their imagination and creativity sharp through these activities.
Thank you to the artist Hajar Azizi for her cover image for this article.