Promoting Reading In Schools In Sierra Leone

Helping children and adults to develop skills they need to fully participate in an information society is central in a librarian’s mission of providing the highest quality library and information service in society. Books help children read. They are more helpful than reading schemes because they promise and provide pleasure in reading. Both teachers and school librarians should be influential in the child’s reading process but they need good knowledge of children’s literature so that they can choose and help these young readers at all levels (Samara, 2002). The Library Association (1991) singled out four areas as being enhanced by reading and use of a variety of sources of information namely: intellectual and emotional development; language development; social development; and educational development. creative web design agency london In view of this there is every reason for teachers and librarians to promote reading in school. What then is reading?
READING
Current attempts to define reading tend to regard it as a thinking process with attention focused on comprehension. That is to say reading is a mechanical and thoughtful process requiring the reader to understand what the author is endeavoring to communicate and to contribute his own experience and thoughts to the problem of understanding. As far back as 1913 Huey began formulating such ideas as can be noted from his frequently quoted words:
until the insidious thought of reading as word pronouncing
is well worked out of our heads, it is well to place the emphasis
strongly where it really belongs, on reading as thought-
getting independently of expression.
In 1937 Gray posited that
…the reader not only recognizes the essential facts or ideas
presented, but also reflects on their significance, evaluates them critically, discovers relationships between them, and classifies his understanding of the ideas apprehended.
Such ideas about the nature of reading continued to expand so that in 1949 Gray wrote that the reader
…does more than understand and contemplate; his emotions
are stirred; his attitudes and purposes are modified; indeed his innermost being involved.
Reading is perceived as a progressive social phenomenon in that it is a means of forming people’s social consciousness; it is used as an instrument in implementing the task of continuing education and raising pupils cultural standards. In brief it is a means of increasing professional knowledge and skills and drawing people into a more creative life. In Sierra Leone, however, the task of ensuring that children learn to read, and of finding ways of helping them to do so is one of general concern to all teachers in both primary and secondary schools. One of the reasons why teachers are eager to help pupils to learn to read is that in modern society literacy is essential. In helping children to read they will not only be able to read but that their reading will develop into life-long habit. Thus a great deal of attention in schools is paid to:
– the promotion of children’s interest in books
– the supply, deployment and classification of books
– guidance in selection of appropriate books
– training in study skills and provision of time in which to read.
READING IN THE SCHOOL CURRICULUM
Reading in schools in Sierra Leone is embedded in the curriculum and is a continuum starting from pre-primary through primary to secondary schools, as an important studying skill. At both the pre-primary and primary school levels specific reading periods are slotted on the timetable ranging from fifteen to thirty minutes. Reading and Comprehension is a stand alone subject and children are taught not only to learn to read but also to read to learn for self-enhancement, experience sharing and recreation. Thus varied forms of literature are used notably poetry, fiction, drama magazines, newsletters and newspapers as well as non fiction, with the latter cutting across the subjects taught in school.

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