The cultivation of a good reading culture
Written by Trix Luvindi
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The coordinator of Busia Community Library Maria Wafula returns a book to the shelf at the old library based at the Cooperatives building Busia [Photo/File]
The cultivation of a reading culture among Kenyans is a greatly underestimated concept and the effects of this underestimation are like a cancer that is slowly and silently eating away at values we should closely guard. The same can be compared to a brain tumor whose symptoms we keep dismissing and ignoring day in and day out .Reading has over time become a task that is perceived to be tedious by the young and old.
My fear is that, the idea of picking up a book to entertain, educate or enlighten will be a thing of the past. In whatever form it may take, be it a newspaper, magazine, book, or an internet article, it is important to keep oneself informed through reading.
Unlike other forms of absorbing information such as watching television, reading will help you exercise your mind, improve your thinking and in time make you smarter. This quality is quite ideal for aging folk because it automatically keeps the minds alert thus making you a quick thinker for the better part of your lifetime. Since reading books takes brain power, it requires you to concentrate on what you are reading for long periods.
Another endearing quality that comes with extensive reading is that it improves your command of language .In order to improve your vocabulary; you do not have to go leafing through a huge dictionary. Reading does that for you .You familiarizes yourself with new words and can even learn their meanings through associating them with the contexts in which they are used. Information gathered through reading helps you become well vast with what is happening in the world around you .This is a good confidence booster since you become an expert on various topics you read. This expertise translates into higher self esteem. Reading gives you things to comfortably talk about with people around you .You can discuss current affairs, story lines, business among other things without being an absolute bore.
As a child, I was addicted to the good old Ladybird fairy tale story books and the thrill I got from being transported to the imaginary world of Rapunzel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Pussy in Boots has earned me respect. With time I outgrew the fairytales but still I had a hunger, a fire in my belly, a stubborn thirst that could only be quenched by reading and exploring a diversity of books and so I explore to find interesting reading material from any source.
In order to solve the problem of a dwindling reading culture, we need to go back to where the rain started beating us. We need to teach our children the value of reading from a tender age .At first it may start out as entertainment and fun but slowly it turns into good grammar and eloquence.
Most youngsters grow up equating books and reading to school examinations and because of this, the only reading they do is when exams are just around the corner. This short time is hardly enough to squeeze the juice out of any book.
It is amusing how parents, horrified by the Ds their kids are getting resort to bombarding them with different versions of similar text books in each subject coupled with threats of whipping if those Ds are not transformed into As. Maybe it is the rebel in me but I cannot imagine the agony of reading three text books on one subject just because mum or dad said so .Like it or not, this will turn out to be a hectic, boring and counterproductive task given that you failed to cultivate a reading culture in your child at an early stage.
It is important that parents know that reading is not only important for examinations but also for nurturing the child’s interests in life, language command, and understanding of general life concepts.
Good readers have travelled the world over, interacted with great personalities, known their history offhand and have discovered their life’s passions all in the comfort of their living rooms or local libraries. It is no wonder that many students make it to the end of their secondary education only to let their grades decide what career they will pursue. If all the books you read were to help you produce results to please mummy and daddy then don’t wonder why your job is excruciatingly unfulfilling.