The impact of school libraries on the reading habits of children: A comparative study of government and private schools in Lusaka, Zambia
Namboo Mwansa, Mwikisa
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The importance of good reading habits cannot be over-emphasised. Reading enable individuals to acquire knowledge, information, skills, values and attitudes necessary for personal, family, community and national awareness and development. It is difficult for any nation to achieve economic development with poor reading habit among citizens. Good reading habits allow individuals to critically analyse and understand issues in the nation. Thus, a good reading culture unlocks the key to economic prosperity since knowledge is power. This study investigated the impact of school libraries on the reading habits of children. It compared two primary schools in Lusaka; one run by government and another privately owned. The objectives of the study were to assess the age at which pupils in private and government schools are introduced to the use of the library; the reading preferences of the pupils; the academic performance of the library users and the role of the school library in inculcating the reading habits. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data was collected by means of self-administered questionnaires and interview guides. 64 pupils from grade 1 to 4 and 8 teachers participated in the study bringing the total to 72 participants. The major findings are presented and include the age at which children are introduced to library use; types of reading materials children prefer; performance of library users and the role school libraries play in inculcating a reading culture in pupils. The paper concludes by recommending that government should employ qualified librarians to run the school libraries; harmonising library services with the school curriculum and the head teachers must ensure that there is collaboration between the class teachers and the librarian in implementation of reading programs in the school.