There is huge potential in South Africa to turn our literacy crisis around so that reading becomes a powerful tool, to tackle inequality and poverty. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.’ While education may be the most powerful weapon, reading aloud and storytelling are integral building blocks in learning.
This is why NGO, Nal’ibali, focusses on reading-for enjoyment. Nal’ibali is built on the simple logic that a well-established culture of reading can be the tipping point for education in South Africa. Part of this ongoing drive to encourage South Africans to read is Nal’ibali’s World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) initiative.
Call to action
As the biggest literacy drive in the country, WRAD seeks to draw attention to the importance of reading aloud to children in their mother tongue. Every year, thousands of South Africans join in the celebration. They are doing it for their children, their language and their futures. This year Nal’ibali is asking those who are already readers to not only read the story commissioned for WRAD 2019 with their children on the day, but to reach out to their networks and encourage others do the same and be part of the South Africa’s literacy solution.
World Read Aloud Day is being celebrated on Friday, 1 February 2019.
A new story is born
Jade Jacobsohn, Nali’bali’s Managing Director, says, ‘Every year we commission a brand-new story and translate it into all 11 official SA languages. Then we encourage adults and caregivers across the country, to join us in reading it aloud to children on WRAD. This year’s story, ‘Where Are You?’ is written by Ann Walton, a well known South African author and illustrator of children’s books.
‘The story can be downloaded from our website from Monday, 21 January. We’d like to encourage South Africans to register that they will be reading aloud and to share pictures of their reading sessions online.’
Why read aloud?
Most of the teaching that happens in a child’s early years is oral. Being able to recognise and understand a wide pool of words, better equips them to learn and succeed in the classroom.
‘The reading of a story out loud not only shows children the value of books but starts discussions, builds bonds between the reader and the audience and motivates children to learn to read and enjoy books beyond their current reading ability,’ says Jacobson.
Remember to tell us you’re reading
‘Last year, with the help of our network partners and the public, we managed to read to over a million children,’ says Jacobsohn. ‘In 2019, our aim is to beat that record and reach 1.5 million!’ In order to monitor the success of WRAD, Nal’ibali asks that all participants log their reading activities on its website: https://nalibali.org/WRAD-2019
So what’s happening on WRAD?
Apart from promoting the ‘Where Are You?’ story on digital and social media platforms, Nal’ibali’s network of partners, schools project – Story Powered Schools, Literacy Mentors and FUNda Leader volunteers will be reading the story aloud at reading clubs and community centres across the country. With the support of the Department of Basic of Education, thousands of school children and educators will be joining the celebration too.
A special event will be held on the morning of the 1st February 2019, at the inspirational Sandton Library, with 200 children from Soweto and Alexandra. The event will be attended by this year’s campaign ambassador, children’s author and social activist, Lebohang Masango and is supported by the Department of Education and its Read to Lead campaign.
Masango will give a special multilingual reading of ‘Where Are You?’ and engage the attending children and adults about the importance of reading aloud. She says, ‘Reading to your children is important because the benefits will follow them for their entire life. Not only is it great for bonding but you are also expanding their vocabulary, their knowledge, their imaginations, their ability to focus and confidently articulate their ideas out loud. Reading is truly the gift that keeps on giving!’
Copies of her own book, ‘Mpumi’s Magic Beads’, will be given to each child to further encourage them to keep reading.
During the week of 21 January, a Nal’ibali mascot and volunteers with take to the streets within various communities to promote WRAD while handing out story cards.
If you would like to join the Nal’ibali’s World Read Aloud Day:
2. Pledge the number of children you will be reading to.
3. Share pictures of read-aloud sessions on the Nal’ibali’s Facebook and Twitter platforms: @NalibaliSA, or use the hashtag #WRADChallenge2019 on the day.