“One of the greatest gifts adults can give-to their offspring and to their society -is to read to children.”- Carl Sagan.
An informed mind makes smarter choices. Smarter choices by all citizens are required to build a progressive society. With this in mind, Better Breed launched a campaign to build an interest in children of the age range 9-11 years in reading. To achieve this each reading session was designed to have an informal nature, to be interactive and fun. During which books were presented as a gateway to everywhere.
To get a deeper impact, it was important for these sessions to hold consistently over the period of the campaign at least once a week. To this end, a call was sent out for interested volunteer readers to sign up for the campaign. Given this was an inaugural project, the large response from the youth was unexpected. This clearly showed the deep desire the youth have to build a better society by giving back and the importance they attach to promoting a reading culture in those who come after them. It is evidence that if we persist in our efforts we are on track to being the better breed we chose to be.
The reading caravan kicked off on the 23rd of February 2018 and closed on the 23rd of April 2018. During the three-month long campaign, reading sessions were held in 11 schools in five regions of the country; Centre, Far North, Littoral, North-West and South-West regions. Over a hundred books were given out, the feedback received from the recipients was the promise of a curious mind.
In each school visited by the caravan, the response was similar in one regard; the teachers agreed to the need for consistent and continuous effort all year long to build a reading culture. This effort will be more enforced if it comes from different directions, that is from a child’s home, school, and environment. Clearly, there is a need for more public libraries and dedicated reading spaces in schools but we can also build good reading habits in less costly ways. This could be by limiting television time, setting aside 30 minutes every day to read, discussing with kids about the last book they read to ensure there are always books at your home and in your child’s room if you are a parent.
April 23rd was specifically chosen as the close of the reading caravan because it is World Book and Copywriters Day. The focus of the reading sessions held on this day was to drive home the message, to the kids, that building good reading habits takes discipline and this habits will help them discern they want to go but also will help them get there.
The Caravan likewise had lessons to be learned by us; the volunteers, organizers and the general public. Lessons like; the vast and easily noticeable difference between the schools which were visited, yet the similarities of how kids behave- excited at being told a story and offered a book- across each school. The utmost lesson; the silliness of the stereotype which goes “Cameroonians don’t read”. Well obviously given the number of volunteers, and the eagerness of our audiences, Cameroonians would love to read, we just need to invest in that reading culture.
Cheers, to many more caravans to come!
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