I remember when I was in primary school, I had to beg for books to read from rich friends in my class – all the Enid Blyton books; famous five, secret seven, R.L. Stines, Goosebumps – all the local books too [Tunde on the run, Eze goes to school etc.]. I scoured the library for the encyclopaedias and practically consumed every book that passed in front of my nose.
I remember when I was in secondary school; the wife of the then state governor invited us for a reading programme. We were encouraged to read because “Readers are Leaders.”
I read and read and read and it really paid off. Reading taught me proper diction, comprehension, vocabulary and grammar in my formative years, it gave me knowledge of the world out there even when my parents kept us at home. It exposed me to broad and sharp ways of thinking outside the box, and helped me weigh matters more objectively. Reading made me fearless in class and before my examiners. Reading has formed me greatly, no doubt about that.
Last year, I made a summer trip to Texas, US, and from the day I met my cousins, they all had books in hand, and the first place we visited after my arrival was the library! They picked 20 books [comics included]! No wonder their minds are sharp. They think wide and broad – they are star bound!
Something must be done about the reading culture of Nigerian young people. We do not read! Simple as that. From the word go, parents have not persuaded their children to read. They have not encouraged them with book gifts. It is not doing good!
Ask a Nigerian schoolchild to tell you about meteors or asteroids or types of snakes or the currency/independence history in Nigeria. He probably does not know. Alternatively, he will tell you he has not been taught in class.
I remember the after exam periods, instead of playing rough and getting injured, I move to the library and read – of the first woman to fly over the English Channel, of Dinosaurs etc.
In the absence of real experiences, books suffice [I knew about differing time zones, planes and cloud types before I actually saw them in reality].
It even affects the spiritual: young people now know next to nothing about God’s word. They do not even know the number of books in the Bible and their classifications. They do not know the commonest Bible stories of all time. They cannot even open the Bible without looking at the table of content.
However, I am looking forward to a great change with the release of my book, Donut, and to see to it that teenagers READ the book! There is a great transformation awaiting them within the pages of the book.
Let there be a revival of the reading culture.
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