There is an adage that says “if you want to hide a secret from an African man, put it in a book”. This adage openly shows how much an African man detests reading. But come to think of it, is it truly the best to hate/detest reading?

Before I can conveniently answer this question, I would like to break down the term “reading”. Reading can simply mean capturing information from a set of written characters. It is not just the act of picking a book and looking at its pages but it also entails picking the information which is hidden behind the words and sentences. Although people mostly believe that reading is only for students and for people of working class, reading in the real sense extends to everyone- young or old, student or not, male or female.

The fact is that if one must be informed then reading is unavoidably involved. Despite this irresistible truth, our youths do not still enjoy reading. Most of our youths cannot even pick a novel and manage to at least cover two pages at a stretch without any difficulty. They see reading as a punishment and thus shy away from it at any given chance.

Not just that, the invention of electronic gadgets such as phones, tablets, mp3s etc. has made the youths lack time for their books. They prefer watching videos, playing games, chatting on social networks and browsing on latest jokes and songs. This obviously makes reading a waste of time to the youths.

Most youths feel reading is the act of channeling useful time in the wrong tunnel. All they know is that life holds more things than one could figure out from the pages of any book.

Aside this, most youths use the time they are expected to use reading to hang out with friends. The fact is that most youths do not want to feel neglected by their peers and thus always want to feel among. It is so saddening to know that most of these peers never have any positive impact on our youths; they only succeed in killing the reading culture in the affected youths.

Notwithstanding this, most of our youths do not have the zeal and thirst for knowledge that existed back in the days. Now, that natural curiosity for more knowledge is absent and most of them feel they know just as much as they need if they must succeed. Thus, whatever little knowledge they acquire from a book is done for the purpose of fulfilling all righteousness and in most cases passing examination. As such the major aim for reading is discarded.

As we all know, a misinformed society is one that would never progress, success is also never possible if a person is not adequately informed. Reading is a source of information and this explains the reason why we should try to stop the collapse of our reading culture.

We can start from our homes. It is a well known fact that charity begins at home, as such parents should always try to encourage their children to read and not just read but read to gather knowledge. Children tend to learn faster by observing and copying parents, peers and people around them, so parents should endeavor to show examples themselves. The parents should also watch the kind of environment they train their children as well as provide good reading aids for their children. Such reading aids could be in form of word games like scrabble, spelling bee and so on. They should as well monitor and reward any attempt by their children to read. This goes a long way to encourage children and rekindle the passion for reading in children.

Our teachers should also help by their classes interactive and lively. This way, teachers will succeed to awaken the thirst for more knowledge in the youths.

Lastly, the government should also help by including novels and other instructional reading items in the curriculum. This way the students would be exposed to a wide range of books and would be encouraged to widen their horizons by reading.

By these moves, I am optimistic that our youths would be encouraged to read and thus get informed. This I believe is the first step to a greater Nigeria.