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Authors, readers, stakeholders discuss how to deepen reading culture among youths

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Once again, the importance of imbibing reading culture took the centre stage and was the crux of a parley organised by Network of Book Clubs and Reading Promoters in Nigeria, which was one of the highlights of programmes that concluded the 23rd International Conference of the Nigeria International Book Fair, organised by the Nigeria Book Fair Trust in conjunction with Nigeria Universal Basic Education Commission.

One of the significant moments of the parley was a special recognition for outstanding commitment to promotion of reading culture award given by Africa Writers Stripe to Mr. Richard Mammah, President of the NBCRPN, has made promotion of reading culture a lifelong commitment.

In his brief opening address, Mammah recognized the importance of the occasion to address the issues around reading culture, saying the act of reading as a culture has to be ingrained to be effective. “We must be deliberate about imbibing the book culture”, he said.

He traced the odyssey of addicted readers of the 70s and 80s and 90s, who had to manage “garri and groundnuts”, saying the current generation are lucky and have no reason whatsoever not to be committed to reading culture given the ambience they operate and luxury of variety of food they are exposed to.

The moderator of the interesting interactive parley, Professor Oyinkan Tasie, argued for significance of reading culture among youths, the beauty of his delivery was that it was strongly interactive, bringing in humour and teasers, making the audience, who are mainly 90 percent young people to be captivated.

The youths present, some of whom are writers, who are gradually finding their groves made comments on how they are able to achieve the milestones and fame they are currently enjoying.

Also, Mr. Jahman Anikulapo, who like Mammah, has made a lifelong commitment to reading culture, advised the youths to be more committed to reading.

He admonished the young people to be more involved in program like this, adding that, “Today is your day.”

He stressed that part of problem the country is currently experiencing came about because “the country has not adequately taken the young people into consideration.”

“You’re people of today and tomorrow, adding that they are the champions of tomorrow. He emphasized the importance of literary and debating society and books club.

In turn, these young achievers titillated the audience with riveting stories of their journey into the realms of books, and the transformation it has made in their lives.

Professor Tasie recalled the current debate on the mass failure at the 2024 University Matriculation Examination, wondered what exactly was going on. He used the prism of the 76 percent failure rate to warn the youths to show more commitment to their books and up their reading culture in order to maximize the gains.

Among the panel of discussants are youth achievers: Adekunle Smith, Ola Timileyin, Fadairo Abayomi, Aderonke Asefa of Talent plus international and author of “Flowers girls” and King Solomon Olurotimi, who has a YouTube channel dedicated to book reviews.

All of them gave their thoughts on reading culture and advising some school children present on how cultivate reading culture.

King Solomon Olurotimi says he started reading when he was three, aided by his mother, adding that reading is like a journey into the heartland of the world, as it expands the horizon and opens up vistas of life, and variety of experience.

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Fadairo Abayomi, on his own argues for the centrality of libraries in developing reading habit.

Reading, he says, ” is something that becomes a behavioral subconscious activity, becoming part of you.

To nurture a reading habit, it has to start with commitment. If you want to know the history of people go to their literature. Reading is a must for everybody.”

Timileyin, a legal practitioner, whose non governmental organization, Ignite Africa, has been involved in promoting reading culture, traces his own efforts to promote reading culture, which even predated his youth service in Abia State. He traces how he has been able to encourage reading culture in Abia State and elsewhere.

“When you want to work with them, work with them in their circumstances”, which meant he became immersed in the private world of the students, visiting their homes and interacting with their parents until they accepted him as one of them. This method worked like magic, according to him.

On her own, Aderonke Asefa says it takes her time to discovered the technique to promote girl child education because of societal bias, but eventually, she has been successful in convincing parents to let their girl child read. She is so passionate about the education of girl child. She says girl child is marginalized.

She has moved from one community to another, encouraging the reading culture and education of girl child.

Mrs. Tasie, a professor, also gave her thoughts on promoting reading culture, using the example of how she draws on intercultural experience to stimulate interest of her students.

Speaker after speaker gave their take on how to promote reading culture. It was a successful parley that participants will remember for a long time to come.

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