Reading is regarded as one of the most important, but also most complex skills utilised to attain fluency (Snyman, 2016). In this study I argue that Namibians have not yet adopted reading as part of their culture, and this is believed to have contributed immensely to the high failure rate of learners and students in primary, secondary, and tertiary education. The purpose of this study was to investigate the contribution that reading can make towards ESL learning at Ordinary Level (OL) in Namibian Senior Secondary Schools. The research focused on the challenges pertaining to reading by contemplating the nature of the reading culture of OL learners, how the curriculum and textbooks model reading for OL learners, and how ESL teachers expose OL learners to reading in the classroom. This research was informed by the principles of the multiliteracies pedagogy of the New London Group (NLG) (1999), the work on social constructivism of Lev Vygotsky (1978), Stephen Krashen’s (1985) Input Hypothesis, as well as Jim Cummins’ (1984) distinction between BICS and CALP. Following a qualitative approach, a descriptive case study design was employed to explore why OL learners lack analytical and critical reading skills that would enable them to learn English from their engagement with the texts they read. Four purposively selected ESL teachers and eight stratified randomly selected learners from four Secondary Schools in the Khomas education region, Windhoek, participated in the study. Data were collected using open-ended surveys, non-participant classroom observation, semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. Using qualitative content analysis, five themes on the role of reading in ESL emerged from the raw data: reading experience, access to reading materials, inadequate curriculum, inadequate infrastructure, and the use of textbooks to enhance reading. The findings indicate that reading is not developed as a culture for the majority of OL learners, as OL learners indicated that they only read for school purposes, as opposed to reading for fun. The OL curriculum was found not to support reading, because reading is not part of the OL syllabus. As opposed to the Higher Level (HL), there are no prescribed reading materials for OL and the OL syllabus lacks proper guidance regarding integration of reading in ESL lessons. The study concludes that a great deal needs to be done to instil the love of reading in OL learners for them to reach the same level as HL learners.