Reviving the Love of Reading: Strategies for Boosting Student Literacy

By Joe Wanjara

The culture of reading amongst students has been on a decline in recent years. This is a cause for concern as reading is a vital skill that is necessary for academic success and personal growth.

There are several reasons why the culture of reading amongst students has declined. One reason is the change of value system. This is according to Prof. Chinew Anunobi, CEO – National Library of Nigeria as penned in an article published by Vanguard News Nigeria on February 21, 2022. She says, “reading culture is declining by the day. The reason is not farfetched; it is completely a result of the change of the value system. The children, youths and adults are not interested in knowledge, rather, everybody is interested in materialism. People want to get rich quick, so there is no respect for learned people and scholars.” She claims that there is neo-literacy where people do not understand the importance of reading.

Another reason for the decline in reading culture is increasing reliance on technology and the internet. With the availability of information at their fingertips, students are less likely to pick up a book and read. Additionally, the fast-paced nature of modern life leaves little time for leisure reading and the pressure to perform well on standardized tests has led to a focus on rote learning rather than critical thinking and comprehension.

So, how do we then revive the love of reading? First and foremost, schools should create a reading culture by organizing reading programs and book clubs. While there isn’t an official book club in USIU-Africa, it is commendable that the Library is in the brink of launching ‘Sweeten your lunch with a Librarian’, a recurrent event where the university community will have a chance to share their experiences with books they've read.

Prof. Munyae Mulinge, Deputy Vice Chancellor – Academic Affairs on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 stated that encouraging students to read books and discussing them with their peers, as well as hosting author visits and book fairs was a step to promoting a love of reading. That’s in line with the institution’s incentive to propel a reading culture, and a notable case of hosting author visits was on June 30, 2022 when Alexander Williams, a USA-based author of two books, ‘Faithful Brothers’ and ‘From Africa with Love’ held a book talk event in USIU-Africa. Prof. Munyae made the remarks during a book launch event held at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) building rooftop where three USIU-Africa students, Eliseus Bamporineza, Victor BK Bol and Anyika Muchesia debuted their books ‘All About Her & Me’, ‘Tales of Drunken Nights’ and ‘Stars Aligned’ respectively. “While others were figuring out what to do with their free time, you [the three authors] were creating content,” Prof. Martin Njoroge, Dean – SHSS, remarked as he applauded the students for a job well done. The event was graced by Hannah Githuki, an alumnus of USIU-Africa and author of ‘Flaunt Your Genius.

Consequently, schools should place a greater emphasis on reading in the curriculum by incorporating more literature and reading materials into the classroom, and by encouraging lecturers to incorporate reading and writing activities into their lessons. Lecturers can assign required readings for the students, which can be in the form of novels, short stories, essays, or other written materials. This will help students to develop their critical thinking skills, as well as their ability to analyze and interpret texts. Additionally, professors can use literature and reading materials as a starting point for class discussions and debates, which can help to foster a deeper understanding of the material and encourage active engagement among students.

Another way to boost the culture of reading amongst students is by providing access to a wide variety of reading materials by setting up a well-stocked library in the school, and by providing access to online books and e-readers as is the case with the ultra-modern Library at USIU-Africa.

Finally, parents and tutors should set a good example by making reading a priority in their own lives. By setting aside time each day for leisure reading, they encourage their children to read books that interest them.

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