| September 26, 2012

Engendering the Reading Culture


By Samuel Alomenu

Creating an environment that fosters the reading habit and gives children an opportunity to explore the endless world of learning are prerequisites to developing a reading culture.

That’s why we continued our summer reading program again this year. Since the students were going to have about 45 days off from school, we knew it was important to keep the reading flame burning. And as iREAD Vacation LIbrary proved last year, providing time for leisure reading is a good way to do that.

This summer, vacation library took place in Adeiso and Kade, Ghana, and it was organized for the Primary and Junior High schools (grades 4 to 9). Students were also allowed to bring along friends.

The idea, as always, was simple but very efficient. We set up a library model where a local teacher acted as a librarian; the children choose books to read from the Worldreader supplied e-readers. The teacher, who was available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., assisted and supervised the students’ reading. At the end of every session, students were required to log the name of the book they read and what they liked about it.

Initially, we had doubts about how many children would show up. We wondered if chores or farm work would keep the students away. But the attendance on the first day proved us totally wrong. Students had come in even earlier to wait for the arrival of their e-readers (Unlike during the school year when students can take their e-readers home after school, during long  vacations, Worldreader collects the Kindles for safe-keeping). About 35 students showed up at Kade Primary School on the first day; 30 came by  Kade JHS; 20 were at Adeiso Primary, and 30 in Adeiso JHS.

During the 15 days of vacation library, 148 total students attended and read 138 titles. After carefully looking at the data collected, we also realized that students took us up on the offer to bring their friends. Forty-four of the 148 students — about 30 percent — were not students in our iRead program. Wow!

Which books did the kids like? Kwaku Ananse in the WellAt the Cocoa Farm, My Big Dada and The Big Rock were the most read books. And, it was so obvious that the children were sharing with their friends books they thought were a good read.

It’s beautiful what is happening. The kids are excited about the vacation library enough to invite their friends to the reading party. And, they are so excited about what they read that they are telling their friends to read the same books.

Think about what magic this is! This reading environment — the vacation library — is slowly igniting the reading culture in these children. These children are beginning to see and respond to the world in a whole different way, an attitude that is going to go a long way to impact the society they live in.