Family Reading: An avenue to reflect on the past and present to shape the future

Family Reading: An avenue to reflect on the past and present to shape the future

Some of the major reasons which inform our reading for all kinds of reading books are obtaining information and recreation. It must also be stated that the reasons which inform people’s choice of books to read depend on a person’s age, sex and interests. Reading gives society access to past and present information – as well as future possibilities, including the experiences of people, communities, nations and the whole world.

The experiences may be based on real historical facts or creative work of people intended to communicate certain thoughts or beliefs to society. Such rich experiences in the past when read could help readers, especially families, get access to information and knowledge that can help chart and shape the path for a whole generation of people.

Reading books that are commonly read by both adults and children are mostly classified as fiction or non-fiction books. Fiction books or writings are basically imaginary narratives or writings. In other words, such books or writings are not based on historical facts or are not true to life.

Non-fiction stories on the other hand are diametrically opposite to fictional stories or writings. Non-fiction writing is based on factual stories. In other words, they are records of events that really took place. Although fiction and non-fiction literature are different types of writing genre, both convey messages that are of importance for our learning or education.

Apart from these, there are books that are solely written for the purposes of satisfying the reading interest of children. Children, by nature, like stories centred around animals, adventures and fantasies.  Such reading literature not only elicits reading pleasure in children but also serve as a means of educating these young ones to cultivate moral principles that shape their future for good.

Most of these reading books, especially those written for Ghanaian children, are based on traditional stories such as folktales, stories around legends, myths and animal stories. The stories are couched and adapted in such a way that they are narrated for the instruction or teaching of children. Children, therefore, read for pleasure, and at the same time learn from the mistakes or wise decisions of characters in the book. Most of these reading books provide lessons on society’s negative habits: such as greed, stealing, murder, selfishness, anger; and positive attributes such as love, humility, hard work and selflessness.

Family reading is very important and has become even more important in this period of man’s history when a pandemic has altered the course of humanity, especially children. It is abundantly clear that society keeps changing, and the way people operate in society continues to change.

In the past, and in our part of the world, it was common to see an elderly woman assemble children by the fireside and narrate to them great stories of the past. Those stories were dramatically and beautifully told, to the pleasure of children. There was no way one would want to miss such stories. Storytelling in the past was one of the sources of entertainment and learning for children. It was also one of the means for keeping bonds with parents. The period was the glue that kept most children close to their parents.  Perhaps this moment, when the majority of children are kept in the house, is an opportune time for parents to reflect on the past and present – and see how best they can meet the needs of children in terms of fulfilling their entertainment and information needs.

Creating an enabling environment in the house where reading activities can take place is one of the ways to fulfil recreation and information needs.  Most of the stories that were told orally have been written down for the reading and learning of children, and they abound on the market. What the majority of children are looking for is to get parents who are willing to spare them a bit of their time so that they can read and share a story together. Children whose parents cannot read still expect their parents to create an enabling environment for them to read. They may require their parents to sit by them when they are reading or to buy them reading materials as well as give them any kind of motivation that propels them to read.

In conclusion, there is a way families can learn together to the benefit of children. Parents can do so by creating an enabling environment for the whole family to read and learn together. The old days of storytelling for recreation and learning can be replicated at home when families read together.

Families whose parents cannot read can still engage in story-telling activities. By doing so, they engender their wards to look for such books to read and thereby help the children cultivate a life-long reading culture. Such reading periods become an opportune time for the whole family to reflect on the values and lessons which such books offer for both the adult population and children. It also offers an opportune time for parents to address some concerns regarding the general growth of their wards. Finally, children have a chance to ask parents questions on some deeds and misdeeds of certain characters in the books.

The writer is the Literacy Promotion Manager, Ghana Book Development Council

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