By Eboigbe Cyril Zion
The advancement of a country is traceable to the level of literacy its citizens possesses. This is what separates the developed world from the underdeveloped world.
Literacy, the ability to read and write is almost as old as man. The first written communication dates back to 3500 B.C when only a few who knew how to read and write displayed their skills in public performances.
However in 23 B.C, books came on the scene first from Rome and then from the Middle East and Asian nations. During this period books were rare and very costly to get. But by the 15th century printed books became more common as it invoked the quest towards a reading culture amongst European life.
Again, the Industrial revolution brought about swift changes to the advancement of the reading culture in the world as a result of paper production which greatly reduced the cost of books. Thus the level of literacy increased around the world.
Africa was not left out, the missionaries coming into the hinterlands of Africa brought education and taught the people how to read and write as a result, schools were established during the colonial era and sustained after the independence of African nations, thus the level of literacy grew amongst Africans and their leaders making many African leaders to gain formal education in their home country and abroad.
According to the Collins dictionary, reading can be defined as a total integrated process that starts with the reader and includes the effective, perpetual and cognitive domains.
Through reading, humans have been able to transmit information or knowledge from one succeeding generation to the other, thus acquiring skills, learning and listening to wisdom and people of the ages.
In Nigeria for example, the decline in our reading culture today especially among children, has its root cause to the advancement in science and technology. Prior to the age of advanced technology like the internet and use of cell phones, reading and writing were the best form of communication such as pen pals. It was full of excitement to read a letter sent to you and quickly reply as soon as possible.
But in today’s world, not much of writing and reading can be found amongst student as communication is mostly carried out through the use of gadgets like phones and electronic mail.
In the past, interschool debate, essay competition and reading competition among students, were key motivations in enhancing our reading culture in schools especially public schools in Nigeria. The absence of this competition has greatly impaired the reading culture and educational system.
In a democratic society like ours, it is pertinent that everyone should be able to read in order to fully dispense the responsibilities enshrined in the constitution.
Developing a competent reading skill is one ability that helps to improve one’s efficiency hence students and employees alike should brace up the challenge to read and be acquainted with current events. Therefore developing a reading skill is essential to one’s success in life.
Reading is a life skill that should be nurtured from childhood. A child’s poor educational background is a direct reflection of his or her poor reading skills and consequential poor grade at school. These pupils often feel frustrated and distracted, have behavioral pattern associated with difficulty to cope in school and hence unable to develop their full potential.
Acquiring a reading skill is key to understanding all subject in school. There are certain requirement one must have in order to be a fervent reader. Such as a skill could help any reader find good books and captivate his interest.
Some of the skills for reading are skimming, scanning, light reading and word-for-word reading. To develop these skills there must be of a necessity a conducive learning environment for quiet study. To this end, libraries were established to carter for such needs.
Unfortunately, most places of learning, particularly primary and secondary schools are located in densely populated areas where noise and distraction hinders the smooth flow of reading. The short supply of books in the library shelves of most schools and almost non availability of library in some schools and communities contribute immensely to a poor reading culture.
The challenge of poor eye health from a child’s early age could also be a contributory factor. Accident or injuries to eyes, problems resulting from cataract, long sightedness and short sightedness not quickly identified and treated, could lead to complication of the eye sight among students.
However, despite the aforementioned factors, there are strategies that could be adopted to change the tide and take the nation from a poor reading nation to a reading nation and her citizens a reading people.
These include but not limited to the provision of adequate funded libraries equipped with books, charts, magazines, newspaper, literatures, journals and computers for e-libraries purpose.
Group reading is another way of creating fun. By reading together, students or people become motivated and their interest stimulated to express their knowledge and understanding of a subject or an issue. As such, good reading habits are formed as students are motivated to habitually read a book as often as possible.
Reading habits are also formed through storytelling, shield reading, formation of books clubs and a serene reading environment devoid of unwanted noise and distraction.
Developing a good reading skills is one way to build your reading culture. The use of an online dictionary like the oxford online dictionary is a good resource for defining unfamiliar words or ideas.
The use of an e-reader online will proffer access to digital books for sale or loans. Also, there are quite a number of websites that gives you access to universities libraries with permission to pre-copy right literary works online.
Reading improves our self-worth, intelligence, fluency, in addition to create pleasure as we read. In addition, it helps to improve our individual personality. Reading helps in essential discovery about life, places and events especially those not taught in the class room. That’s the more reason why teachers are to encourage students to cultivate a deliberate reading culture as a life practice beyond the class room or school environment.