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“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
― Harry. S. Truman

I was with a friend’s 9 year old nephew a while ago, the young lad was playing a game on his psp. Agbaya that i am i just knew i had to get a piece of the action, so ‘famzing’ was the way forward. I began to talk to him, ask him questions and all, apparently he was playing Prince of  Persia (one of my favorites). Anyway as the conversation went on i asked if he had other interests etc, it went this way:

Me: so what other hobbies do you have?

Him: I love cartoons, still learning to ride my bike, i go to the cinema sometimes too.

Me: Do you read any story books or novels?

Him: No i don’t, books are so boring…

As he said that i just felt cold, like someone took me to siberia and tossed me into the snow, naked. It was like a nightmare, books are boring ke, tufia! I shouldn’t have been too surprised though, it wasn’t the first time a kid had said they had no interest in reading, guess i couldn’t just ignore it this time. It’s very worrying.

As a kid i loved books, there was always something to read and there was no limit to where i could read. In class (guilty), during a meal, in the morning before school, heck even during my private time in the toilette (best place ever!). Whether it was the secret seven or famous five or even junior english project it didn’t matter, stories of smugglers, mysteries, shipwrecks, magic were so appealing to my young mind, they made me think, they made me wonder. Some people say i have a very colourful(ish) imagination, i guess we know where that came from. Psycho and proud!!!

Back to reality, I’m describing a heartbreaking problem that spreads across a whole generation or two of kids. They do not enjoy reading and many cannot read. Does reading really matter? Well, humans must understand concepts in order to live their lives. And they must also be able to use critical thinking skills-that is, they need to know how to apply the concepts in real life. If a child’s reading skills are severely lacking, then it follows that their writing skills will also be poor. This is so true in Nigeria today, many kids and adults as well can’t write to save their lives. I have a hard time communicating with some people because half the time i wonder if what they wrote is Gaelic or English, its that bad. Ok some can argue that they can text or update their facebook statuses etc etc (trust me most times this doesn’t always come out right), this in no way means they know how to add significantly to their knowledge and they certainly aren’t developing their creative imagination, two very important life tools.

All kids wanna do today is play their video games, surf the internet, manipulate their parent’s ipads and in some cases ‘set p’. I know 10 year olds who have blackberries, overkill in my opinion.

Let me just make 2 points that could possibly help get kids to read more:

1. Teachers need to wake up and smell the coffee! Do whatever it takes to teach their classes in a way that turns kids on—even if it takes a bit more time and effort. I think kids would rather know what it was like to be a soldier suffering through the civil war than to memorize the fact that Nigeria beacame on January 1, 1863? Don’t you think that kids would rather do experiments and handle real substances in nature than simply memorizing the abbreviations for various chemical compounds? Its not rocket science, go figure!
2. Parents should try (emphasis on try) to help their kids with their reading, encourage them, make books available etc etc. There were books all over the house when I was young, I’m thankful for that today.

I don’t intend to preach or judge or point fingers, its just been bugging me for a while now and the ‘spirit’ just took over. There’s hope for the next generation that much I believe, do you??