"If fun is what you're after or you're looking for laughter, Read a book! (Read, read! Read, read a book)" So goes a children's song by American musicians Marcy Marxer and Cathy Fink.
There is no doubt that reading can be lots of fun. Not only fun but it opens up new worlds, new experiences and offers exciting adventures. I still remember the first novel I read from the African writers series titled The African Child by Camara Laye. I can't remember how many times I read that book. The story was just so fascinating to me. Before then were the Lady Bird series of Cinderella, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Jack and the Beanstalk, Beauty and the Beast, etc followed by Enid Blyton's famous Five, made popular of course by the TV series. All these inculcated a love for reading that has remained.
At the summer reading program for children ages 5 to 12 years organized by the American Corner Abuja some children said they'd never read any other books apart from their school books.
When asked if their parents had purchased any story books for them, the children replied no. I just couldn’t imagine how much they were missing and just how unbalanced an education is, that leaves you with just narrow concentration on your school work. Thankfully the summer reading program exposed the children to the pleasures of reading for the sheer fun of it. They read autobiographies, story books, and abridged versions of classics like Robinson Crusoe, and Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night's Dream. One child read ten books within a week. For a lot of them it was just plain fun. There was one though, who was more interested in the computer games on the computer at the American Corner (bad habits die hard). Children that read widely tend to be smarter, there’s no doubt about it. Recently Vanguard newspaper reported a Kenyan girl obtained the highest scores in the world in English Language in the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education examinations. Interestingly her teacher attributed her skill to her “voracious appetite for books” and that she reads widely.
At the end of the summer reading program the children had the pleasure of listening to the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria Terrence McCulley read to them from the book written by no other than U.S. President Barack Obama. The book Of thee I sing was written by President Obama to his daughters and pays tribute to 13 American achievers.
Apart from reading, children at the summer program regularly engaged in spelling bee competitions and other activities. Even though the program lasted for three weeks some parents still wanted it to go on. One can’t blame them, keeping children healthily engaged during a long holiday can be quite tasking. But what better way, than to have them relieve the past, learn about great personalities, and get a good laugh from the world of books.