Yesterday, Macmillan Publishers Rwanda, in conjunction with Radio Flash and The New Times, held the first ever Children’s Reading and Writing Competition at Hotel des Mille Collines.
There, children from over ten schools read, drew, wrote and recited poems, stories, and various activities.
It was not so much a competition in the strict sense of the word – though everyone who answered their questions correctly were duly rewarded with prizes of books, novels, dictionaries from Macmillan Publishers – but an effort by the organizers to inculcate a sense of reading and writing skills in children.
The value of cultivating reading as a culture in our society cannot be over-emphasised.
Besides providing a window into hitherto unknown worlds, to learn and explore and become acquainted with things and knowledge that one did not possess before reading, and which cannot be known unless one read, reading can also enhance the other skills of speaking and writing.
New words are learnt; spelling problems get rectified through constant reading of a variety of materials; grammar gets easier to grasp; and tenses, often taught with a rigid pattern without attaching them to context, become easy too.
That is what reading does – works miracles in complementing teachers’ input.
The third important value of reading is entertainment. In this age of television, movies and video games, books get very little chance.
In this way do we miss the great entertainment value of novels, travel guides, readers’ digests, anthologies, and poetry, to mention but a few.
The lack of appreciating language usage can be put right at the door of this kind of ignorance.
No appreciation of a turn of phrase; no sense of appreciation of circumstance – just an amorphous presentation of words without any grain of decorum.
It is up to the parents of this world to introduce reading to their children, and make them want to read for and by themselves, and not really always for an end result like passing examinations.
Half the job of teachers is already done with a reading young population. And this is what the long-standing partnership of The New Times and Macmillan Publishers, and now Radio Flash, is trying to show the Rwandan parents and their children.