A decision has been taken to roll out community school book clubs, which were piloted in four local schools last year, to twelve schools, following resounding literacy results and growing support amongst learners and schools.
“A unanimous agreement that belonging to a book club helps reading skills has been reached. Participants, without exception, reported that their book clubs helped them to develop their vocabulary and comprehension,” said Hlengiwe Radebe, Economic Development Director for Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm.
The Book Clubs are usually made up of small numbers, 8 to 15 learners per group, with some groups meeting at least three times per week. The aim is to increase this to two groups, who will each meet at least once or twice a week.
In addition to supporting reading development, members thrive on the social interaction amongst like-minded members and book clubs convenors will now begin to introduce games and other fun activities linked to reading, to help draw even more interest.
A Hankey Primary School reading assistant, Ruchaan Malgas, said, “The learners have surprised me in a way I never thought possible. We started with a small group of 8 and ended up having more than 15 learners during every lunch break. I challenged each one of them to read a book and the one who finished first, got to share their interpretation of the story”.
“The learners are enjoying the books just as much as I am and I feel the need to continue as it is not every day that our learners get so excited about reading and books,” added Ruchaan Malgas .
Jeffreys Bay Wind Farm’s Foundation Phase Literacy Programme launched the reading clubs in a bid to help mitigate what is known as the ‘fourth grade reading slump’, during International Literacy Day, 8th September 2017, a day that aims to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.
During the first three grades, children are learning to read, but from the fourth grade, they are expected to read to learn. This is a huge jump, with young readers being confronted with textbooks, a wider range of subjects, and more complex content than they experienced in the Foundation Phase. For many children, the opportunity and the desire to read for pleasure is reduced, and reading becomes associated with struggling and difficulty. The result is that children are left behind, and the reading gap increases.