By Ann Wambui
“If you want to hide information, put it in books.” A famous thing you may have heard people use. I have heard of this line many times than i can count and used it on various occasions. I hated reading books growing up and this habit i have taken it even through high school. Lord knows how i survived through this level of education especially with the set books for both Swahili and English. Now i look at my niece of age 6 read story books and from her speech you can tell that her pronunciation is well calculated, thought of and fully aware of. I see her and i flashback to what my life was like when i was of her age many many years ago. (lol)
Nowadays, reading is being encouraged from a young age so that children develop that culture in them so that they carry it with them even in adulthood. And to say the truth, i think some of the children storybooks i have come across are amazing and most importantly educative. I have read some as bed time stories for example Brian Hobson aka Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway’s series of children’s picture books; Lazy Lion, Handsome Hog, Hungry Hyena e.t.c. These books i can strongly recommend as Birthday/Christmas or any day gift for your son/daughter/friend. In a fun way, they explain why different wild animals have certain habits as the book title projects.
Annually, on April 23, the world marks World Book Day which according to United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is a celebration to promote the enjoyment of books and reading. The day is marked all over the world to recognize the scope of books – a link between the past and the future, a bridge between generations and across cultures.
If we had a reading culture back when I was growing maybe my Swahili would have been sanifu (to mean standardized) and my English even better. My dad reads the newspaper till date but that was never my go to place unless my siblings and I were fighting to see who gets the “Buzz” – a famous edition that was published every Sunday with cartoons to color, animals or art kids were meant to “join the dots to complete“.
But i do remember an amazing book I read in Class One, “Hallo Children”. Oh how i loved this book and the characters. With the broken struggling English of mine, I could at least understanding Tom, Mary, Mr and Mrs Kamau.
This book and others like Kaka Sungura played a role in my childhood and others born in the 90’s. Once you read something, it will be difficult to forget and for kids, it creates an amazing imagination. You can sail away in the story seeing how the two kids would wave goodbye on their way to school and the activities at home too. Which is the same thing when you read a novel. You are so taken by the flow that you can hold that pee to finish the last three paragraphs or so and end up starting another chapter and once you are done, it is possible to narrate the whole story.
Reading shapes ones language. It could be Swahili, Arabic, German or any other and it can be fun too. For children books, pictures make the whole experience memorable as the images stick in their minds.
Let us nurture, empower and embrace reading for our children.
Hallo Children image, Nation media
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