Community Reading Days were born after Kesho Kenya shared agenda of the Tusome Tufahamu project with partner institutions and Kenya National Library Services (KNLS), Rotary Club of Kilifi and Moving the Goalposts (MTG) came on board. The purpose of these reading sessions was to reach out to as many pupils living in Kilifi as possible and bring up a generation of kids who enjoy reading.
When these institutions came together, they decided to have KNLS as the venue for all community reading sessions so as to create awareness of this facility since many kids did not understand how they could utilize such a facility to their benefit. At this point, nobody had visualized that this initiative would be an amazing platform to bring children together and aid in creating and enhancing a reading culture among the kids.
The first community reading session took place in March 2018 and was graced by the Ministry of Education officials, representatives from partner organizations and 200 children among them being children from school for the Deaf who came with their teachers and professor who interpreted the occurrences. The theme was “Enhancing reading culture among children and youth in Kilifi County”. This was a successful first engagement but we felt the 200 kids were not enough and we needed to reach out to more.
Therefore, a second community-reading day was organized in September 2018 with the agenda of commemorating the “World Literacy Day”. The impact of this initiative had grown massively as in this event we had 500 schoolchildren attending despite us having budgeted for 250. More partners joined and were able to get 500 supplementary readers from the Kilifi County Government and these were gifted to the kids.
Children took part in fun – filled activities as that they enjoyed reading storybooks out loud and took part in activities, which were geared towards key literacy skills. One could see the amusement and interest on children’s faces to read and participate in activities. They joined word puzzles & word building games, story re- telling done in groups; other extracurricular activities such as sac races, drama and dancing.
All these organizations joined hands so as to enrich KNLS resources during the event. Kesho Kenya and MTG agreed to bring on board supplementary readers especially during engagements with children. Kesho was also to oversee literacy support activities that children would be engaged in during the sessions to foster their reading confidence, fluency and comprehension .The rotary club was tasked to create a pool of volunteers to come in as reading assistants and fundraise for children’s snacks and stationery. Each organization was to mobilize children who live within a walking distance from KNLS to attend.
When sessions ended, a debrief of children and stakeholders was done where children were informed of other community libraries like MTG community library and Kesho Kenya resource center including information on how they could be accessed free of charge.
Kesho has been implementing the Tusome Project to ten primary public schools in Kilifi for over one year. The main objective being to enhance reading for understanding among grade one to three pupils as we had taken note of the dire reading gaps in public schools, which lowers school performance especially in languages. The project’s vision was to ensure parents understand their role in child literacy development and pupils master expected reading competencies for their grade levels in school.
A culture of children who enjoy and love reading has been created and we hope to maintain and keep improving this, which came as a result of the Tusome project initiative. Parents who at the beginning didn’t know they have a role to play in a child’s literacy program are now aware and are willingly taking up responsibility by buying their children story books, allowing them to visit libraries and supervise them while reading at home. Kesho Kenya as an organization is looking forward to diversify our literacy support activities so as to reach out to Kilifi and beyond.