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Why Reading Can Unlock Better Opportunities For The Youth

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The United Nations revealed at the beginning of the year that 70% of all 10-year-olds who live in lower- and middle-income countries — like those across the African continent — do not meet the minimum standards with regards to foundational literacy. These standards include the ability to read and understand simple text. As such, many have noted that children in most African countries suffer from learning poverty. It also does not help that recent surveys reveal that the quality of education in Kenyan universities has dropped by nearly 60%. Consequently, many fear that children in the region are falling behind.

This makes it all the more crucial for kids to effectively learn how to read. However, it’s not enough for them to simply grasp the skill. By learning to love reading as well, children can better practice reading comprehension and appreciation. As a result of this, they can also benefit from countless other advantages that reading brings. Here are a few of them:

Reading boosts academic performance

When kids look forward to reading at school, they’re better motivated to concentrate and find it easier to expand their vocabularies. They increasingly understand what they’re reading about, which ultimately strengthens their cognitive development. That’s why today’s schools focus on fostering a love of reading. At Bridge Kenya — which is part of a continent-wide school network— students receive supplementary books based on their literacy needs, as well as digital storybooks that encourage them to read wherever they are. Because they’re given what they need to learn at their own pace, their love of reading grows — and so does their academic performance.

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Reading enhances creativity

From the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to the tales of Anansi the Spider, The Book Buff claim that books that are fun to read are usually those that spark the imagination. With them, children can visualize and explore unknown worlds, get to know interesting characters, and learn about all the events that bind the two together. This imagination can further sharpen their sense of creativity. It makes children more open-minded — making it easier for them to accept new ideas or even invent and try out ideas of their own. It can even teach them how to think outside of the box thereby enhancing their problem-solving abilities.

Reading develops empathy

According to experts in cognitive psychology at Toronto University, those who regularly read can develop higher levels of empathy and compassion. This is especially heightened in fictional works that delve into a diverse range of characters and scenarios. Studies show that reading such stories can even help you understand your feelings, control them, and connect with the feelings of others. Similarly, in surveys by school teachers, children who read or were exposed to fictional books scored best on different empathy tests. By reading all kinds of stories, children can learn about their ancestors and their traditional culture as well as the lives and cultures of those who live far away.

Reading strengthens family bonds

Though many people are afraid of losing touch with their children due to generational differences, studies show that reading can remedy this. WebMD points out that parents who read with their children, even before their children can actually read by themselves, can boost brain development. Many stories introduce words that aren’t normally used in everyday conversation, and this can improve their language skills. Above all, though, sharing the experience of reading a story together can deepen the bond between parent and child, create special memories, and form positive associations with reading in their mind. This will encourage children to maintain the habit even as they become more independent.

Reading’s positive effect on life, especially for children, cannot be understated. As detailed above, aside from being an enjoyable experience, reading is a holistically enriching skill that can complement the youth’s many different needs.

For more on education and regional updates, please visit the rest of Kenya Insights.

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