A study of the availability and relevance of children’s recreational literature in selected public libraries in Kenya
Kibandi, Irene Muthoni
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This study on the availability and relevance of children’s literature established the condition of our children•s sections in the public libraries. The underlying assumptions of the study were; that Kenyans are poor readers who read only for examinations and to ensure promotion at work; that reading habits can improve in Kenya if children are provided with relevant recreational literature and that these books should be relevant in as far as themes, characters, language and style, plot and physical conditions are concerned. The themes covered in children•s literature should promote lasting moral values that are useful to our society. Such are like honesty, love, kindness, humility, respect and many others. These should be inculcated into the children as they grow up. The characters should be children who the readers can identify with either through sympathy or admiration. The plot should be interesting with suspense that will make children read further. It should not be over prolonged as they can easily lose interest. The length of the books and their physical condition should be ideal for the different ages so as to promote and not stifle the interest of reading. The recreational books should be in adequate supply so as to keep up with the children’s changing needs as they grow up. The idea of Kenyans being poor readers is yet to be statistically proved as true but it is rarely that adults read for pleasure. The findings showed that recreational books for children are too few in our public libraries to fully satisfy the reading needs of the active users yet the majority are not using the libraries. Most of the books are imported and only a few are written specifically for the African child. Most of these, however, were relevant since they had themes that had teachings for the children who read them, They had well-coloured illustrations and simple language. A few had no illustrations and most of them had difficult words with no explanations. The physical condition of majority of the books was not very encouraging. Some were incomplete, torn, written on while others had too lengthy stories for children. More books are needed; the service should be publicized so as to have more children aware of it. User education is necessary and the children1s librarians need to be trained so as to serve children more confidently.