Parents and guardians need to read for/with children. There is a common adage that to hide anything from an African, keep it in a book, implying that Africans are not eager to read.
We need to nurture the reading skill right from home because charity begins at home. If one grows up in an environment where reading isn’t given a priority, they will find no use of reading. Homes are the foundation of creating an active, knowledgeable and confident reader.
With reading, one is able to connect with the globe, discover what was, is and gains the ability to predict what will be. It is common practice for teachers in primary and secondary schools to force learners to read, simply because most of them were not exposed to the reading culture at an early age.
Starting to read as a child is one of the strongest indicators of later academic success. Research shows that children who have been read to before starting school, and whose family members continue to read to/with them perform better than those who have not had such an opportunity. When a parent reads with a child, it fosters a love of reading in the child which contributes to overall development.
Sometimes parents who have had no education feel unable and uncomfortable to read with/for their children. But for such cases, one can use pictures, interpret them to the children and bring back the traditional storytelling, commonly known as ‘engero’. This increases the child’s curiosity, critical thinking and creativeness.
The world is now moving so fast. Parents are busy running up and down to put food on table, leaving no time to attend to children yet the maids left behind may not have a long-term vision for someone’s child hence may see no use of reading for the child.
Parents can use everyday activities within the homes to support learning, for example make them wash utensils as they learn shapes and colors which develop their critical thinking.
There are instances when one is alone, reading books can connect you to the world as it is a way of getting ideas, knowledge and skills from the book authors and also keeps the brain busy.
Reading books, telling stories are some of the best ways to motivate children to read and expand their imagination and creativity. This exposes them to vocabulary, language forms and ideas which are important for the development of cognitive, emotional and language skills, hence has an impact on one’s level of reasoning.
Due to poor reading, people seldom read medical prescriptions let alone terms and conditions on many gadgets they buy and use daily.
To save the future generation and change the narrative, parents and guardians need to get away from their busy schedules and dedicate time to read for and with their children. The earlier the child grasps these concepts, the easier it will be for them to learn to read.
With the second term holiday soon coming, I advise parents to use the opportunity to instill a reading culture right from Pre-school going children and even those who have not started school yet.
Communities should organize activities such as reading and writing competitions, community socialization meetings and creation of public awareness to help foster the reading culture in communities.
The writer (Nankumbi Rebecca) is a teacher by profession