Reading is largely taken for granted, particularly at the Junior Secondary School (JSS), so that language teachers hardly think of it as a basic skill that requires the most careful attention. Yet if a child fails to master the skills of reading, the rest of his other education is either a flat failure or only a limping success. Research figures are hardly needed to demonstrate that most secondary school students cannot read with adequate comprehension. Their inadequacies are clear in their inability to cope with the texts
provided for them; they indicate their limitations by their failures in the final written examinations. Moreover, many of them are unable to read, understand and complete application forms for employment. In view of the absolutely indispensable role of reading in modern life and the fact that a civilized standard of living is not attainable without the ability to read, this paper sets out to review the current status and function in formal education, with specific reference to the junior secondary school education in Nigeria as set forth in the National Policy on Education and to suggest a functional reading programme which will be consistent with the aims of our secondary school education and the over-all objective of preparation for higher education and for useful living within the society.