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Cultivating a reading habit: Why kids should read

Cultivating a reading habit: Why kids should read

By Adedoyin Ajayi

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you will go.” Dr. Seuss

Annually, April 23 is dedicated by the United Nations to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. Reading is an element that forms the bedrock of the twin elements of literacy—speaking and writing.

I strongly believe reading is one activity best formed early on in life. When children are surrounded by books, they grow into adults who desire the feeling of reading. This makes it less of a chore in adulthood. This stimulates a love for knowledge that extends far beyond classroom textbooks. In this manner, reading becomes a habit rather than an unpleasant task borne from compulsion, an enforced yet necessary nuisance to ward off the looming threat of academic failure. Reading bears many benefits far beyond simply averting academic failure. It shouldn’t be regarded as a medicine; it is extremely unpalatable but highly beneficial.

Children shouldn’t view reading as a burdensome activity to be endured. Rather, it is an art that has numerous benefits for kids. The earlier they imbibe the art, the easier it is to sustain it throughout life. Among adults who actively seek out time to feed their minds with information and sharpen their intellect with reading, the chances are higher that they started as children.

There are myriad benefits that reading confers on the minds of children and their development. Reading arms children with the basics of vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency in the English language. Reading helps them grasp the basics of grammar. This strengthens their spoken and written English. Simply put, reading helps children speak and write better. Children can learn new words from reading.

Additionally, the benefit of reading on the cognitive development of children cannot be overemphasised. Reading gives children a panoramic view of the world by exposing them to a world beyond what they can see. It equips them with a broad understanding of the world. Through reading, children develop awareness of another world beyond their immediate surroundings. They can learn about other people and their cultures. It helps them learn in an imaginative way.

It is also worth stating that reading stimulates the memory of children and helps sharpen their focus. Reading to a child and asking them questions afterwards can juggle their retentive powers. Doing this repeatedly helps kids cultivate attentiveness and subsequently raises their attention span.

Yet another benefit of reading to kids is the effect on their knowledge banks and creativity. In a wide variety of fun and imaginative ways, children can learn new things from a wide range of topics. By doing so, they become thinkers, adept at drawing up ideas and creative patterns of thought.

Lastly, through books, children can learn the basics of empathy and emotional development, given that most children’s literature often covers themes such as family and friendship.

A 2023 UNICEF report posits that 75 percent of Nigerian children between the ages of 7 and 14 cannot read a simple sentence. This is a grim statistic that is as woeful as it is worrying. A society that raises children devoid of knowledge teeters in the dark pit of ignorance. A number of factors are responsible for this, such as poverty levels leading to a high percentage of out-of-school children coupled with inadequate funding for education. All hands must be on deck to cultivate a reading habit in children, as it is a seed that bears fruit for each and every child, society, and the world at large. No society is worse off for a more enlightened population.

Adedoyin Ajayi is a writer and corporate worker based in Lagos, Nigeria. He is a Commonwealth Correspondent, a researcher, and has authored a collection of short stories. He is passionate about education, sustainability, HR, and socio-economic development. You can reach him at [email protected].