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Book reading improves literacy among pupils in Wamunyu

Students from Wamunyu in Mwala, Machakos County, have improved their literacy levels by mastering the art of reading books.

Through a recent competition, the students were given books to read, master, and retell the stories of what they have learnt.

The competition of over 108 students, sponsored by Kenya Connect Library Learning Centre in Wamunyu, required students to read 95 books in three months, bringing forth a celebration where they crowned the winners who read and mastered the most books as King and Queen of the reading challenge.

James Musyoka, the Executive Director of Kenya Connect in Wamunyu Mwala Sub County, said while speaking during the reading challenge celebration that reading broadens one’s mind and helps one understand the world around them better.

Winners of the reading challenge having read and mastered the most books in a span of three months Eveline Mueke as Queen Reader with 95 books and Israel Mwendwa as King Reader with 87 books cutting a cake at Kenya Connect in Wamunyu Mwala Sub County. Photo by Anne Kangero

Musyoka, who is also the co-founder of Kenya Connect, said the learners are demystifying the need for the promotion of a reading culture through their library programmes, which are fun for kids, and have put Wamunyu on a map of “a village that reads”.

He affirmed that in the programme, the pupils have many opportunities, such as the Lit Club, where they expose children to having fun with reading, writing, and expression.

“We encourage children in our community to read through hosting Saturday story time, where children come here Saturday morning and do story telling with the staff and create a project based on a story they have read,” added Musyoka.

The Kenya Connect director noted that they have encouraged the students to explore their creativity by issuing them books to read, pens, pencils, and crayons for free, which they do not have at home, so that they can improve in their reading and writing.

Musyoka, however, pointed out that the internet has posed a challenge, with many relying on e-learning materials to read, yet it has many distractions, thus making the reading of physical books a challenge which they are trying to revive.

“We are living in a modern world where everything is digital, and the e-books on our phones and computers should not hinder us from reading physical books because e-books have distractions such that when you are reading, an advertisement pops up and you get distracted,” said Musyoka.

He encouraged parents to help and encourage their children to read physical books, which are more engaging and will help them get creative.

Easter Muinde, who is a teacher at Kenya Connect in Wamunyu, said that they have a mobile library where they visit 37 schools within the county to encourage the reading culture in children, and that’s how they came up with the King and Queen reading competition to ensure they read the books.

Muinde says that the students are required to track the number of books they have read, the title, the author, and the date they read the book, and then their parents are to sign and ensure that the kids have read the book.

“The reading challenge has been a way to ensure the kids have read because when we take the books to them, we are not sure they are reading them,” noted Teacher Muinde.

She added that the challenge the children are facing is time because the term is quite short and the teachers are targeting to finish their syllabus before the term ends, so they are given many assignments, which poses a challenge to their reading culture.

14-year-old Eveline Mueke from Mbaikini Primary School in Wamunyu, who has read 95 books of 25 pages in a span of three months, was crowned as the Queen Reader in a competition that saw 108 students from Mwala fighting for the position.

Evelyne said she enjoys reading books and is planning to read more during the coming holidays.

The King reader was crowned to Israel Mwendwa, an 11-year-old grade 6 boy from Kanduti Primary who read 87 books of 25 pages. He said his favourite subject is English, which he always gets 90 or above.

He said reading gives him courage and confidence, and he was jubilant to be crowned the King Reader in Mwala.

The learners also participated in a 5-kilometre race to raise awareness of the importance of reading physical books.

By Anne Kangero

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