Inspiring a reading culture in schools

Expressly, reading is very fascinating. Oh yes it is! For the time I have read books, I have found it really interesting and every other time I read a book my enthusiasm increases at the last word of the ending paragraph.

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Geoffrey Wakibi

Expressly, reading is very fascinating. Oh yes it is! For the time I have read books, I have found it really interesting and every other time I read a book my enthusiasm increases at the last word of the ending paragraph. Reading takes the largest portion of my time and I would never want to put down a book even when I read up to crack of dawn. 

I can’t imagine the boredom that I will experience the day I will run out of reading material because there is no time in my memory that I spent without a book to read. Who will forget the excitement derived from the famous African writers like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, and Ngugi Wathiongo? What about the pure fiction versions of James Hardly Chase, Robert Ludlum, Jeffrey archer, John Gresham with his court versions? Think about the Bible – the widest and greatest systematically written book with a fleet of authors!

For teenagers, especially in school, reading is very important and as a young person, you will not just learn reading but you will also learn to become a social being.

What’s reading?

One may want to know what the culture of reading really is. It is the intergrated pattern of reading behaviour, practice, belief and knowledge and to understand how the teacher and student actively create and maintain this pattern.

Once the reading culture is created and maintained in a school, the students are bound to enjoy several benefits that will even be essential to inspire their interest to have subject content books at their front and this will be a platform for their ability to pass examinations.

Reading helps to develop the vocabulary of a reader. While reading, one encounters new words which may at times be difficult to translate. At least a reading student will endeavour to find out the meaning of the new word using a dictionary or its synonyms.

At school young people tend to find it hard to cope with the too much subject contents. Having a reading culture maintained in school will help students be able to deal with the increasing demands of school and class work.

A reading culture broadens imaginations of young people. It helps students learn how to think and meditate about issues in the world around them. The mind and brain are always kept open as a reader tries to comprehend what he has read.

Reading opens lines of communication, particularly if teachers provide opportunities to discuss what the teens read. Here teenagers will know that they are not alone and that others may be thinking and feeling the way they do. They share and see how others have found solutions to problems. As students take to the communication platform, they gain confidence when speaking. Eloquent people are always good readers and writers.

Strategies

Schools need to provide the resources and opportunities needed for students to engage with reading. Provide libraries with generous opening hours and reader friendly policies like library borrower limits. Let the reading space (library) be quiet, comfortable, with busy social hubs that allow for different types of reading engagement. Reading schedule is very important where short sessions for personal leisure reading will encourage the habit of reading in the school.

Students also need opportunities to participate in the reader response by allowing discussions, group activities and debates. This boosts the enthusiasm for reading since the reader is eager that after it all there is a hot debate to follow. Book discussion groups can be a powerful motivator as peers play a crucial role in developing attitudes to reading.

These can be informal, may be during a lunch session where the readers’ ideas are discussed, respected, and shared.

Role models are a key to reference for young people because they provide a window to the future. Adolescents read more when they see adults such as teachers read. It is particularly powerful for boys to read when they see their fathers engaged in reading. ‘Dads and lads’ sessions endorse the value of reading; getting reading mentors to support young people.

These all help to consolidate a reading culture in the school.

Here are some of the tips you can use in your school;

l Pull together students who love to read. Let the school timetable schedule reading sessions and use a whole school approach.

l Employ all the web functionalities at your disposal, for example text messaging the latest new books.

l Don’t abandon read alouds in class or school assemblies since students need to gain confidence to read in public and by themselves.

l Provide and know your library stock.

l Put the right resources in the right hands and time. Teachers and librarians not only need to know their stock but also need to know their students.

The writer is a teacher

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