Nal'ibali connects children and caregivers across SA to local libraries
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Nal'ibali connects children and caregivers across SA to local libraries

Nal’ibali is South Africa’s reading-for-enjoyment campaign aimed at using reading and storytelling to ignite the creative and critical potential of all children, especially those who do not have access to reading material, like many children who speak African languages. For SA Library Week, which takes place between 16 -23 March, Nal’ibali Literacy Mentors will be connecting 2 000 children from more than 25 primary schools across South Africa to becoming library cardholders. And, to further attract community members to their libraries, the mentors will be supporting library staff in launching 28 reading clubs.    

“Literacy learning does not only happen at home, at school or in the community, it happens in all three of these places. Nal’ibali’s approach has always been holistic and includes all three places in its approach children’s early and ongoing literacy development,” says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director.

To strengthen existing efforts to change children’s lived experiences of literacy, Nal’ibali brings together many different stakeholders and has been working with libraries since its inception in 2012.

Nal’ibali values libraries as an important community resource and partner in the goal of using reading for enjoyment to develop children’s literacy and has been supporting libraries from its inception in 2012 by:

  1. Providing library staff with training and support in reading-for-enjoyment good practice
  2. Supporting library staff to set up and run Nal’ibali reading clubs
  3. Making select libraries pick-up points where members of the public can collect copies of Nal’ibali’s reading-for-enjoyment newspaper
  4. Inviting libraries to co-hosting literacy events to increase their visibility and popularity

“By rolling up our sleeves, real progress can be made to root reading-for-enjoyment practices into the daily lives of children, their caregivers, and communities. Together we can ensure meaningful and sustainable literacy development in South Africa”, continues Jacobsohn.

“Libraries have always had an important and significant role to play, especially in terms of offering a community service to their patrons. However, due to the increased use of electronic sources and digital technology, we are seeing more and more, that the role of the libraries as community and cultural centers is being undervalued and under-appreciated and having Nal’ibali assist us in mobilizing members of the community to visit libraries is a huge help,” says Senovia Welman, National Public Relations Officer for The Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA).

The SA Library Week 2018 theme, Libraries: heart of the Community, is a reminder to all library users that the library is a communal space that caters to specific needs whether these are educational, social, recreational, or informative.

Senovia notes her top ten reasons to visit the library:

  1. Reading at the library is free.
  2. Regular visits help children to establish a habit of reading and become better readers
  3. Reading helps to improve writing, thereby growing literate children
  4. Libraries are about more than just books, there are great free activities to enjoy such as regular storytelling.
  5. Libraries offer a quiet space for older children to work on school projects and assignments.
  6. Libraries are great places to read about your favorite author or discover new authors!
  7. Libraries can be enjoyed by everyone.
  8. It helps establish reading habits
  9. You can ask advice from knowledgeable librarians
  10. Quiet time to work on school project and assignment

For more information about the Nal'ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, free children's stories in a range of SA languages, tips on reading and writing with children, details on how to set up a reading club or to request training, visit,, or find them on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.

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