Nal’ibali’s World Read Aloud Day is becoming one of the biggest literacy drives in South Africa, reaching thousands of children and adults every year in its bid to raise awareness of the importance of reading aloud for children’s literacy development and school success. Taking place on Thursday 1 February, the campaign is calling on the nation’s support as it aims to break its read-aloud record by reaching one million children or more across the country.
The event, which follows the release of the results of a global literacy study revealing the true magnitude of SA’s literacy crisis, holds a special significance not only as a milestone for the Nal’ibali campaign, but as an opportunity for all South African adults to take action as they grapple with the news that 78% of Grade 4 children in SA cannot read for meaning in any language.
Says Nal’ibali Managing Director, Jade Jacobsohn: “Reading aloud, and particularly in home languages, is one of the most important things caregivers can do for their children. By exposing them to the sophisticated words and language not common in conversation, this simple activity helps young children, and even babies, build a strong language foundation and develop their vocabularies.”
And, because most of children’s early school learning takes place verbally and in their mother tongues, regular exposure to books and stories in home languages can provide them with an early academic boost that will see them right through their school years; sparking not only their minds and imaginations, but their curiosity and emotional development too.
Every year Nal’ibali celebrates World Read Aloud Day by commissioning a brand-new story and translating it into all 11 official languages, before asking South Africans to join them in reading it aloud to the children in their lives. This year, the special story has been written by acclaimed South African author, Zukiswa Wanner, and is freely available for download from the Nal’ibali’s web- and mobisites (www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi).
Wanner will be giving her own special reading in isiZulu to 1 000 school children at a mass-scale open-air read aloud at the iconic Mofolo Cultural Bowl in Mofolo Park, Soweto. The event is being held in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education which is further helping to spread the story to children in its network of public primary schools and early childhood development centres.
Nal’ibali has also partnered with Blind SA and Sign Language and Education Development (SLED) to ensure that children in the deaf and blind communities are able to enjoy the story through the production of a braille story card and a digital video in South African Sign Language.
Read-aloud sessions will be held by members of the public, the campaign’s national network of literacy activists or FUNda Leaders, Na’ibali’s own Literacy Mentors who support over 1 000 reading clubs in six provinces, as well as participating partners and fellow NGOs. These will be documented and shared on Nal’ibali’s Facebook and Twitter feeds as they take place on the day, allowing children and adults in different parts of the country to connect and share in the joy of this nationwide event.
“By asking adults to join us in this simple and satisfying activity, and increasing their awareness of and access to stories in different SA languages, we want to show caregivers just how important their role in their children’s literacy development is, and how easy it can be! Reading and sharing stories – at home or in the classroom – has the power to uplift our country, but it’s a practice that needs to be repeated regularly and access can be the biggest barrier.” concludes Jacobsohn.
Those wishing to participate in Nal’ibali’s World Read Aloud Day can visit www.nalibali.org or www.nalibali.mobito download the official story in any official SA language and pledge the number of children they will be reading to. Participants are also encouraged to share pictures of their read-aloud sessions on Nal’ibali’s Facebook and Twitter platforms: @NalibaliSA, or use the hashtag #WRADChallenge2018 on the day.