A good reading habit is a vital skill that students should possess. Students should strive to have a good reading habits that would enable them function well in all rounds of life.
Reading is the ability to induce meaning from written or print words.
Therefore, reading is cardinal to 21st century students whose mission and goal are to excel in their academic pursuit and future endeavours. Habit is something one does repeatedly usually without awareness; therefore, reading habits could be described as reading voraciously. Reading develops the mind, imagination, creative potentials, improves spelling and expands the vocabulary.
A student who does not have good reading habits would find it difficult to flow along with his counterparts. It is assumed that students with good reading habits find school interesting.
When a strong foundation is laid both in the school and at home by parents, the nation will surely be transformed into a reading society.
The habit of reading can only be cultivated through regular and keen reading of various reading materials such as books, magazines, novels and newspapers by students in order to acquire knowledge which will be applied for development.
Students who are avid readers would not be bereft of ideas to have breakthroughs in any life endeavour. Reading is an essential skill that is crucial for all-round development of students at all levels of education in the world of today. However according to Adesulu et al, asserted that about 30 million Nigerians have graduated from secondary schools with poor reading skills, attributing it to the poor habit cultivated during their stay at school.
Importance of Reading Habits
1. Reading habits enhance individual self-confidence, moral and intellectual development. With a good reading habit, students will inevitably, attain success in their academic endeavours. Reading provides experience through which the individual may expand horizons of knowledge, identify, extend and intensify interest and gain deeper understanding of himself, other human beings and the world.
Oyewusi asserted that reading broaden young people’s experiences and knowledge. Ogugua et al, acknowledged a reader as one who seeks to understand the meaning of a written text; evaluates its significance and uses what he or she has read to enhance his or her knowledge, effectiveness or pleasure. Developing good reading habits would improve the secondary school students’ comprehension skills, vocabulary, pronunciation, speed, knowledge and lifelong learning. Reading is an exceedingly important ability that every student should strive to possess.
It is essential for secondary school students in order to achieve the desired outcome in their academic pursuits and beyond. Hence, it is imperative for all stakeholders to promote the reading habits of secondary school students. Reading also improves a person’s vocabulary, spelling, writing skills, fluency, proficiency, language enrichment, cultural enrichment, critical thinking, personal involvement, sociolinguistic and pragmatic knowledge and emotional intelligent.
According to Oji and Haliru, there are diverse ways of promoting reading habits among students which include programmes such as reading clubs, mobile reading tents, book talk, and story hours. Gifted Hands a book by an internationally acclaimed Neurosurgeon Carson (1990), as cited by Shabi and Udofia, challenged young people to evolve a sustainable reading habit as reading is pivotal to educational success and an essential key for students’ lifelong learning.
2. Reading makes a student will be advanced. A good student who exhibit a good reading habit is highly advanced amongst students because it will enable reading with ease, and provide opportunity to have great accomplishments in any task. However, many students do not embrace the habits of reading the way it is expected, hence, there is need for cultivating a good reading habit early in the life of every student which would act as a catalyst to their personal development and lifelong learning.
There is a general saying that ‘readers are leaders: when a student is an avid reader, such would have an edge over his colleagues, who are casual readers, the reason being that he would acquire inspiration, information and have an insight into the rich knowledge of the world around him through reading.
According to Davidovitch et al, acquisition of reading habits is a gradual process of letters, words, sentences, paragraphs and complete texts. It is evident that the development of good reading habit is not sudden but stepwise.
Promoting reading for pleasure is fundamental to empowerment of students to become lifelong readers and to have successful careers. Ngwoke submitted that the act of reading is expected to form part of students habits, and stressed further that good reading habit is a precursor to information, education and communication strategies. Reading is an indispensable tool in learning that forms an integral part of any learning situation, and the bedrock of education.
Reading is central to intellectual actions and also an essential skill for lifelong learning. Adu-Sarkodee et al contended that there is an urgent need to develop reading habits among individuals in the society, most especially students of high schools.
There have been several interventions over the years to promote reading among young people. For instance, the Reading Association of Nigeria, the Nigerian Book Development Council and Nigerian Library Association have been in the forefront of the struggle for the development of good reading habits of students in Nigeria.
To this end, the National Library of Nigeria has been sponsoring the readership promotion campaign in the country.
Bring Back the Book (BBTB) initiative was the brainchild of the former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan. One of the aims of the initiative is to revitalise reading habits of young people. Igwe and Uzuegbu acknowledged that Bring Back the Book is a right initiative for reviving the poor reading habits in Nigeria.
However, as good as the initiative is, there is a fundamental problem with the implementation of the initiative.
Igwe and Uzuegbu, affirmed that the initiative was not properly implemented and some essential factors were found missing; hence, this affected the execution and the success of the initiative. Government should not hesitate to establish adequate public libraries in all local government areas and school libraries in all secondary schools in the nation. These libraries must be funded appropriately to achieve the missions and the goals of the libraries.
Moreover, Readership Campaign is a vision of the National Library to promote, stimulate and inspire the inculcation of reading habits among students. Specifically, the objectives of the readership campaign are to: encourage more reading Nigerians, promote the increase in production of reading materials in Nigeria, both in quality and variety, and identify the major inhibitors of reading in the country and find ways of eliminating them. Readership promotion campaign should be embraced by all stakeholders to create awareness and emphasise the importance of good reading habits among secondary school students. Funding has been a major setback to readership campaign across the nation.
Consequently, the effect of the programme has not cut across the whole federation due to lack of print and electronic media that could go round which could enhance the achievement of the set objectives. Good reading habits could serve as a panacea to socio-economic and political problems.
Developing the reading habits of secondary school students should involve revisiting what transpired in the elementary school.
Kolawole, asserted that most primary schools have no functional libraries, books and teachers who can promote reading at elementary school level of education and therefore concluded that problems, affecting reading at the secondary school level are a carry-over from the elementary level of education.
The most unfortunate thing is that high school students experience the same scenario, and most school libraries are not adequately equipped to develop or support students’ reading habits.
Many ofofthem are either not stocked with adequate materials or do not employ certified teacher librarians. Thus, there is practically nothing to motivate students to develop good reading habits.
Little wonder, Etuk observed that some primary school leavers do not have adequate reading habits and end their primary school career as illiterates, thereby swelling up the illiterate population in Nigeria. Many researchers in the area of reading generally observed that Nigerian students’ reading habits is very low compared to that of developed countries.
It is evident that students prefer accessing social media sites to the detriment of reading books, magazines and novels among others, which compounds and erodes the problem of poor reading habits.