Making South Africa the first stop on his two-month mini world tour, award-winning Australian children’s author, Andy Griffiths – best known for his Treehouse series, treated children at Nal’ibali’s Shining Stars reading club in Masiphumelele to a special reading on Saturday 25 March.
Nal’ibali is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign that aims to spark the potential of all children through reading and storytelling in home languages as well as English. With a network of over 1 000 reading clubs across the country, including 20 that have been running in the Masiphumelele community for the past three years, Nal’ibali is built on the simple logic that a culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa.
When children are immersed in well-told books and stories – especially in languages they understand, they experience reading and writing as satisfying and meaningful and are motivated to learn to read and write themselves. Research has also shown a direct link between children who read for pleasure and improved school outcomes, not just in English and other languages, but across all subjects including Maths and Science.
Understanding the far-reaching benefits of reading for enjoyment with children, and a literacy ambassador for children in his home country, Griffiths made sure a visit to a Nal’ibali reading club was included in his tour. Said Griffiths, “I love meeting children and helping them to feel positive about reading and writing. I used to be teacher and came across many children who didn’t like to read in my classroom. I started writing funny stories for them and quickly saw the effects as they soon wanted to start drawing and writing for themselves.”
Bringing this humorous element to his visit with the Nal’ibali club, not only did Griffiths share his own journey as a reader and an author with the children, but included a special ‘balloon orchestra’ – a noisy and interactive experience, in his storytelling. He further presented the club with a complete set of his Treehouse book series and signed teaser copies with just the beginning chapters for all the club members; enticing them to read and share the full set and extend the story experience by making up their own endings.
“Author visits are a special experience for our reading club children. It shows them that books are written by real people, just like them. This is an inspiring and important experience for young readers,” said Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director.