Written by James Okere


First Wednesday of October every year is celebrated as World Reading Day. The World Reading Day was declared to raise the consciousness of the people about the importance of reading to the society and to individual self development. The declaration of the world reading day is to encourage all people the world over to appreciate reading as a veritable instrument of societal development.

Francis Bacon the French writer says “Reading makes a man”. Francis Bacon is not alone in advocating reading as a way of achieving greatness. Others who have also understood the power of reading after deep reflection includes Abraham Lincoln; former President of United States of America who said “The things I want to know are in the books… thus my best friend is the man who will give me books I have not read.

Also, Desiderius Erasmus said “When I get little money I buy books, and if any is left, I buy food and clothes”. Richard Steel said “Reading is to the mind, what exercise is to the body”. Even the Holy Bible in appreciating the value associated with reading recorded that my people perish for lack of knowledge; for which reading is a great factor in knowledge acquisition.

The world reading day is held to inspire us to appreciate the values of reading. It is celebrated to motivate us to encourage one and another to read books that improve upon us and add value to us and to the society.

The ability to read wide especially quality books will go a long way to develop and fortify the mind of a person towards contributing to societal growth. In summary, we read in order to expand our knowledge frontier, to add value, to avail one with information, to self develop one’s potentials, to generate ideas etc.

Reading gives us insights on various issues, thus helping one generate ideas on various issues as well. Most great people who have achieved great successes attested to by the people and society are men who developed time towards reading great books including books on successful men; who created history in line with the saying of Thomas Carlyle, the Scottish Philosopher when he said “No great man lives in vain. The history of the world is but the biography of great men”.

Reading successful men would reveal to the reader how they endured to achieve greatness in life, thus helping one to start developing the values that shaped greatness amongst which are vision, determination, patience etc.

Many great men have attested to the fact that it was through reading that their lives changed and their contributions to societal development attested to.

Dr. Poly Ike Emenike; a Nigerian entrepreneur and the Chief Executive of NEROS Pharmaceutical admitted that Napoleon Hill’s two books- Think and Grow Rich and Laws of Success Principles-which he read had tremendous influence in his life successes as an astute entrepreneur today in Nigeria.

Dr. Ben Carson a world acclaimed Neurologist and an international role model for many youths and by this year-2015 was a leading U.S Presidential Aspirant of the Republican Party admitted that his success story became possible largely because he was encouraged to read books and also visited local libraries in order to learn and develop his mind which shaped his contributions to the society.

Also Pastor John C. Maxwell an internationally recognized leadership expert and author admitted that reading championed by his father was instrumental to his successes in life.

On the strength of the above, Nigerians should through her government, institutions and individuals strive to promote reading culture. The government at federal, state and local governments should strive that our libraries are functional. In addition, our National and State libraries should have e-libraries facilities. Each local government should also strive to establish one functional library. To further promote reading culture, our secondary and higher institutions curriculum should be structured to inculcate amongst the students the interest to read books on issues of leadership, motivational and biographies of successful men and women.

Also, social organizations and institutions should champion the establishment of book clubs. In addition, one sure to encourage reading is for individuals and institutions to be involved in a Donate Book Project: to youth clubs, individuals, schools etc. Giving out books as gift should be encouraged by all. Also reading competitions should be sponsored amongst our primary, secondary and higher institutions, all in a bid to develop the mind of the people towards societal development.

So far In Nigeria, we need to commend some of these institutions and person who have been in the vanguard of promoting Reading culture and they include: Read Africa Initiative- project of United Bank of Africa (UBA) Plc, Channels TV Book Club, UAC Goodness League project, Bishop Mike Okonkwo (Bishop of The Redeemed Evangelical Mission (TREM) - National Essay Competition, Centre for Research Information Management and Media Development (CRIMMI) etc.

Finally, reading promotes literacy which develops the mind of people. Readers are Leaders is a popular saying that should galvanize us to embrace reading books towards personal and societal development.

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