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Growing up, we lived like we were rich. We knew we weren’t rich but my mother did well to make us feel we were. In truth, we were struggling to even be middle class but she was so focused on given us the life she never had. She once hawked gala in traffic, none of her children would ever live like that.

As much as she tried, there were holes that couldn’t be fixed cosmetically, we knew them, but we didn’t complain much because we knew mummy was trying her best. We attended schools that were above my mother’s pay grade, so we mingled with kids whose reality was our dream. My mother taught us to be contented so we never let it get to us.  But when they spoke of the adventures of being raised in a really rich home, I couldn’t help but dream. As a young boy, I soon discovered that there were places where dreams live, and because dreams cost next to nothing, no one would stop me from dreaming.

I don’t remember the first book I read, but I remembered I fell in love quickly with reading. When the rich children talked about their fun adventures, I’d dream of the adventures in my books. It was my escape. Through books, I lived all the lives, and in all the places reality couldn’t afford me.

I read Roald Dahl and I dreamt of living in a chocolate factory, and C.S Lewis took me into realms where anything could happen. The book Asterix and Obelix was my first introduction to history, and it has been a long, beautiful relationship.

I read too much of Enid Blyton, and I knew I was unofficially the infamous sixth person in the famous five series. I learnt to be inquisitive and to think outside the box. She also introduced me to the world of pixies and pies, I still long for the type of pies in those stories.

Along the way, I stumbled on the works of D.O Fagunwa, trust me, the best things in life are cheap, and they are books. Chinua Achebe, Zulu Sofola, Ola Rotimi, Wole Soyinka, the list is endless. They not only coloured my imagination, they dared to curate my outlook on life.

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It is very important that all children are encouraged to read books from an early age. Reading grows and enlightens the mind. It takes you back in time and into the future. You learn history and science, ideas and places. As a child, reading helped me make sense of the world around me.

Books excite the imagination and curiosity, increasing active imagination in children, which is necessary for building problem-solving skills, creativity skills and formulation of healthy coping skills for intense emotions.

Reading makes a child smarter, and helps to build vocabulary. In general terms, it is safer to keep a child reading than to leave him/her in front of the television.

At The Orderly Society Trust, we believe Literacy provides opportunities for improving the quality of life. As we celebrate the World Book Day with children all across Nigeria, we re-affirm our commitment to bringing quality education to disadvantaged communities.

To address the problem of literacy, OST has ongoing projects designed to help increase the number of children and adults who can read and the reduce drop-out rates in school. They are:

The Pre-school literacy project, which is focused on bringing education a step closer to children who reside in slum communities

The After-school literacy project, which is designed to ensure the smooth academic development of the children already enrolled in public primary schools

The Excel Literacy Project is another project implemented by OST to address the low literacy skills of public primary school pupils across the country with the pilot phase being implemented in Lagos state.

 

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one.”
― George R.R. MartinA Dance with Dragons