We could have a heated debate on whether there’s a reading culture in Rwanda or not, till the clock literary stops ticking. I believe the first thing to do is define what a reading culture is. We all know that reading is one of the skills of learning a language.
While culture maybe defined as the total of inherited ideas, beliefs, values and knowledge, a reading culture could simply be an engagement of readers with words, visually. Reading is said to be nourishment for the mind, body and soul, depending on who is speaking.
Even with the current situation where we can’t really tell whether there’s a reading culture or not, we may conclude there’s a reading culture that is less intense. There are a number of reasons that have propelled the current reading dilemma in the country.
The principle of demand and supply; the situation may be that the reading resources to engage with are limited.
Walking around bookshops in Kigali will reflect the fact that even book dealers are least aware of what they sell. Most bookshops will either sell a chemistry book or a dictionary, which are very important but there’s need to have a blend of comic books and the like. Of course, the seller wants to sell what is on demand.
These entice readers to progress in reading. Well, both parties (reader and seller) may argue about this.
Language is a detrimental factor to the habit of reading anywhere in the world. I mean, ‘how will I read English books when I cannot even speak the language’ one may say. We can’t blame anyone. The readily available books seem to be of one particular language, so readers will find it hard to access literature of any sort hence lead them to withdrawal, altogether.
How to help
One of the ways to tackle the lack of reading syndrome is to begin at home. Children should always be read to, as early as three years of age. Reading the same bedtime story never hurts kids after all, they prefer listening, over and over again, to a story they are familiar with than to a new story.
A child who has been read to has better line imagination and comprehension than their counterparts who see story books at a later age.
Schools should embark on scaling up their libraries from reading halls to stocked libraries. This is normally an expensive venture but worthwhile. An average library should not only have scholarly books but also non academic literature like daily newspapers, magazines, charts, comic books and fiction and factual books among others. There is no way all these varieties will fail to cater for all kinds of learners.