Lack of Lots of Books, Not Culture, Is Reason for Lack of Reading

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Lack of lots of books, not culture, is reason for lack of reading A lot of people have murmured statements to me along the lines of, “Rwanda does not have a reading culture. It is an oral culture. You really have to find a way to get kids to read.” This is perhaps said because it is difficult to find a book store in Rwanda and, at times, difficult to get the kids in the village to read whole English books, cover to cover. I always reply, “we just have to find the best, junkiest, risqué/action-packed/girly/exciting/y’know books out there so the kids feel like reading is as fun as watching television.” And then I get the same, “yes, but remember that there is no culture of reading.”

This annoys me. When I walk around outside of the ASYV village with a book, there are always boys and girls and women and men coming up to me to read over my shoulder. They get next to no practice reading, so they cannot read as well, so reading an entire book is more challenging.

I gave one girl from a surrounding village, around five or six kilometers away, a comic book to read – a pretty-hard-to-read batman comic book – and she was reading as she walked, just like New Yorkers on the subway reading as they travel. This particular girl, who was twenty years old, did not have enough money to attend secondary school, though her English was very good – that was the only reason I could speak with her. The fees for secondary school were around $60, which was at least three or four months pay for her.

Instead, she was learning how to be a mason and hopefully ill wmake enough money, one day, to attend secondary school. Though perhaps not soon enough, before she gets married. I mention this because the only reason she was not reading much, much more was because of lack of funds to buy books and buy the education that would allow her to improve her reading and make it worthwhile. It was a a "lack of culture in reading."
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