Reading for Pleasure in Nigeria: An In-depth Case Study of the Reading Habits of a Small Group of 9–12 Year Olds in Nigeria
In recent decades, Nigeria has repeatedly had low pass rates in examinations taken at the end of secondary school. There are claims that the low student achievements are largely because Nigerian children do not read for pleasure, even though these claims lack the backing of empirical research. This qualitative study therefore explores reading for pleasure done by a group of 9–12 year olds in a book club in Nigeria. It aims to shed light on the extent to which the children read, how, what, when and why they read, and the factors that affect their engagement with reading for pleasure. A study of children’s reading habits is important as some research suggests that reading for pleasure may offer many benefits including reading proficiency, increased general knowledge, and improved vocabulary. Through an interpretivist theoretical perspective, the study gathered data using the methods of collage making, observation, questionnaire, and interviews. Findings indicate that the participants read for pleasure, though their level of engagement with reading for pleasure differs. All the participants read printed books, and a few participants also read digitally. Popular reading materials include fiction, comics, factual books, crime and detective books, and adventure books. The children have different motivations for reading, but many state that reading is fun and interesting. Some research done in the United States and the United Kingdom indicates that factors such as availability of books, choice of texts, pedagogies of reading and an enabling adult affect children’s engagement with reading for pleasure. This study examined the relevance of these factors to the participants’ reading habits and found that the reading engagement of all the participants may have been, in varying degrees, influenced by them. Other factors that possibly affected the participants’ reading habits were the reading environment, reading aloud, and the availability of social networks and affordances that support leisure reading. The findings could provide guidance on practices that strengthen children’s engagement in reading for pleasure.