“For you to be able to write, you should be able to first read. Read a book”
The above is a reconstruction of a tweet on twitter.com posted by the blogger, Funmsdrebirth.
I was going through The Punch Newspaper on Sunday, a rare ritual in this age of online editions, and I got to the page specially set aside for the young ones “Sunday kids”. I remember been a disciple of that column, and a proud contributor. It took me deep down memory lane, gave me a reminder of why and how I began to “read”…..and consequently became a writer.
My Dad, an avid reader himself, and owner of an impressive personal library of books, one day realized I was watching too much TV, playing too much football, but reading nothing beyond my school books and instructions on cereal and biscuit boxes. I was very imaginative, in my mind’s eyes I could visualize incredible events, I could tell stories. At age 6, I was already a favourite for holiday period hangouts for other kids, with me there was no dull moment, conversation for me was effortless. My old man knew those energies needed to be harnessed, he knew I had to acquire a medium of expression beyond talking, and it was something I needed to begin to develop.
One day, during one of my TV sessions, he walked in, ordered the TV off and handed me a weekday edition of The Punch and gave me a column to read and relay to him what it was all about. That was it, that opened Pandora’s box.
I realized I enjoyed other people’s thoughts, I enjoyed how they could openly hide the meaning of a whole sentence in one word, it forced me to seek the meanings for these words. I got introduced to the dictionary. Eventually, I moved from newspapers to story books. I was amazed to realize that the cupboard in my class store was actually a library. I had all along thought it was somewhere class items were kept or somewhere the teacher had his armory of canes for flogging kernel headed students. It was actually a mini library. Here I borrowed my first real “novels” – “Akin goes to School”, “One week, one trouble”, “Tales out of school” , and other titles from the African Junior series. I read “Pacesetters”, “Hadley Chase” and “Mills & Boons”. With time, I hungered for more, I needed to read a “big book” like my father always did. I courageously picked a hardback book from his library, about a thousand pages big, they called it “Mercantile law” I didn’t outlast the preface page because it’s theme was something way too confusing for my young brain, it had no cute pictures of people in funny caps trying to jump on the tailboard of lorries, but it helped kill my fear of voluminous print.
You can’t even begin to imagine the vast reservoir of knowledge hidden in the pages of books, from the holy books to erotica, just like still waters, they run deep. A whole world of genres exist out there to meet different tastes, a vast collection of volumes on diverse topics.
The habit of reading helps you develop very important innate skills. It helps you build your sense of imagination, this allows you to think and come to (mostly) valid conclusions from very little information, it makes you develop the ability to use dialogue to navigate very difficult situations that require such, you build your vocabulary, your eloquence begins to take real shape, and ultimately (if you ever care to awaken that part of you) develops your writing skills. Your sense of humour might also get a boost if you read the right books. Obviously, it also allows you pass your WAEC English easily. A bottomless pit of possibilities and opportunities await an avid reader.
“Like the saying goes, a man who can read but refuses to, can’t say he is better than a blind man”.
So get your vision back today – get a book, read it!