Africa Kids Book Club


One of this year’s themes for the Day of The African Child is “Education for All.” Incidentally,  May 16th was Global Accessibility Day. Both of these got me thinking about how we can make reading more accessible to children.

As parents or adults in general, we often struggle with reading books or pieces of literature. This could include lofty Shakespearean texts with “thine,” “thou,” and “hear’st” (no hate to Shakespeare) or books published in tiny fonts. Such books are often abandoned despite our best efforts, like placing them by our bedside, to no avail.

It is doubly important, then, to find ways to make reading accessible for children. Considering that children’s attention spans can be fleeting, that there are children with disabilities, and that they are still being introduced to the joys of reading. We should present reading as a joy—a way to see the world through different eyes.

Before I lose your attention, let’s discuss how to make reading accessible. While these methods are not exhaustive and should first consider a child’s interests, here are some tips:

  1. Use Different Mediums

Draw your child into reading by using various mediums. One of my favorite movies as a child, “Matilda,” was an adaptation of a book. It was fun to compare the book with the movie. You could also have your child read the book first and watch the movie later. This could settle the debate on whether books are better than their movie adaptations. Apart from books, toys such as Legos, activities such as cooking could all be tied to books and offer a practical way of understanding what is mostly presented in writing.

     2. Incorporate Audio

Use audiobooks or text-to-speech translators. This method is effective for children with visual impairments and great for children in general. For some (including myself), pairing audiobooks with a physical or e-book is a fantastic way to engage with reading.

      3.  Include Pictures/Illustrations

While I was in school, reading books without pictures was seen as the pinnacle of reading. This view is misguided, as pictures can enhance understanding for children. For example, if I wrote, “The seats are under the awning right outside the house,” a child might struggle to understand “awning.” But with a picture, they would grasp the meaning more easily.


       4. Provide a Variety of Reading Materials in Different Genres:

Offer diverse reading materials tailored to different needs. This could include Braille for visually impaired children, dyslexia-friendly fonts for those with dyslexia, and choosing from a variety of genres to find what piques your child’s interest.

With this, I believe that we would make reading accessible for children and a joyous way for them to gain knowledge.

John Ian Mutiro

Volunteer facilitator  Batian & Teens Group

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