When I was younger, I was a voracious reader (still am). From the moment I could read ‘Eze goes toSchool‘ and ‘Mr. Salami is a farmer, he lives in Sapele‘, I pretty much consumed any thing in my path – okay, my aunts made sure the Mills & Boons (romantic books) were far away from me, but not all escaped :P. You know kids are good with research, LOL.
It all just got me thinking about how there were loads of writers to feed kids’ thirst for story books. Locally (in Nigeria), there was Buchi Emechita’s Second Class Citizen, Second Chance, Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine, and Ralia the Sugar Girl , Without a Silver Spoon… you name them, there were loads.
And ofcourse foreign books by Enid Blyton, Famous Five, Malory Towers, Ladybird Books etc. All these books helped my generation (which is still young but not the youngest), cultivate a reading culture that is priceless today.
However, I fear that which we once had is getting lost. How many Nigerian authors cater to kids’ reading needs. Perhaps the real question is, how many kids really want to read? I buy storybooks for my little cousins on their birthdays because that was the best gift you could give me when I was their age (except a bicycle of course). But I see them read the books because “aunty Tomi bought it for them” and they know it is good to read and they should enjoy it. But frankly, what they really want to do is watch Spy Kids, Ben 10, Bratz and Cheetah Girls. And it is not their fault, those programmes will be the topic of discussion in class tomorrow, and heaven help you if you are left behind. It means you dont have DSTV or a power generator in your house. In children’s dictionary, that = poverty.
Is the digital age to blame for the death of reading culture among kids, can the situation be salvaged, what can be done about kids’ literature? When are those talents that I very much know exist going to sit up and bring back the old time?
I just want to know, WHO WILL WRITE FOR MY KIDS?