“Sitting There—Cool and Reading”: Results of a Reading-for-Pleasure Programme with Grade Seven Namibian Learners
This article explores the way in which a Namibian initiative to provide time in the school curriculum for engagement with reading may be developed into a practical reading programme. Based on principles of self-determination theory and expectancy value theory, as well as the work of Kimberly Safford about reading for pleasure, enabling physical and social classroom contexts that promote reading for pleasure was explored in a Namibian context. Viewing reading as part of a variety of literacy practices, different forms of reading as well as a variety of reading activities were integrated in the programme. The article reports on this process by documenting learner views on the reading programme. The programme was implemented with 48 Grade 7 learners in an urban, primary school in Namibia. The primary sources of data included eight focus group interviews, as well as a questionnaire which evaluated the reading programme. The results indicate that the implementation of the principles of the programme regarding choice and variety of texts stimulated the rediscovery of the joy of reading. Learners recommended that in future programmes digital reading activities should be further developed. There was a strong focus on the educational value of reading throughout. Furthermore, the merit of responding to texts in writing was pointed out. While learners agreed that the sharing of views regarding reading experiences built understanding of texts and was motivating, social reasons for reading seemed complicated and reading ability was regarded as a personal matter. The article concludes that, similar to other research findings, attention to reading for pleasure is important in developing reading motivation. The value of the study is situated in the use of views of Namibian learners towards the development of guidelines for similar programmes, as well as in the illustration of useful strategies for building a reading culture in schools.