Monica Cheru-Mpambawashe : Lifestyle Editor
Learning to read can be a pain or a pleasure, depending on who is teaching you and how they do it. Like most learning skills, reading is something that can only come to us through practice. Reading practice is enjoyable when we have materials that we can love.Usually for the young these are stories that they can relate to which also allow them to escape into other worlds.
A new series from Ventures published by College Press in 2015 will do that. Designed for primary schools and written by Cletus J K Ngwaru the series offers 10 English first readers and five for Shona.
The series takes the story telling approach to teaching with simple stories mostly told in the first person. They encourage children to look at the world from alternate angles.
The series touches on many topics including health and disability.
The stories are beautifully written, sensitive and interesting. For example in book 10, “From a poor family” is told by a child whose family was poor.
When they got a cow from well wishers and it gave birth, the calf was killed by a bull aiming to gore the writer.
The writer does not dwell on the calamity for this poor family. Instead he focuses on the fame brought about by the sight bloody sight of the bull with the two halves of the calf impaled on either horn!
There are also poems included for variety and interest.
The stories gradually build up vocabulary as there are new words in each story. All the English readers have a word list at the beginning and some chapters have some discussion questions at the end.
The questions generally make the reader think more about what they have just read.
The books are ideal for school reading and for parents to read with their children at home. They can also be used as bedtime reading for very young children who will then grow up to want to learn to read the stories themselves.
Most children will probably only need assistance with the first book and can tackle the rest on their own with minimal support.
The series is certainly a welcome addition to the local libraries at a time when most people are relying on books sold in the streets which are full of errors and lack concise skills development.
The series also offers a viable alternative to the current reading series used by most schools which has been there for so many years that some of its premises have been taken over by time.