If, ‘The journey of a lifetime starts with the turning of a page,’ then Nal’ibali – South Africa’s reading-for-enjoyment campaign – has been the catalyst for millions of lifetime journeys. Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for ‘Here’s the story’) was founded in 2012 to spark children's potential through storytelling and reading. Each year since, it has been leading literacy change in SA by galvanising adults into reading with their children through its annual World Read Aloud Day celebration.
What is World Read Aloud Day
World Read Read Aloud Day (WRAD) is a sustained initiative to promote a culture of reading aloud with children amongst families, parents, caregivers, educators and society. 13 401 children were reached with Nal’ibali’s first call to action in 2013. In 2021, the campaign, together with its partners, read aloud to over 3 million children. The growth of this initiative suggests that South Africans have embraced the call to read aloud on the day. Reading is the foundation of education, and Nal’ibali works hard to promote reading and literacy throughout the year.
Signing up 1 million families
As opposed to previous years when Nal’ibali’s focus has been on increasing the number of children being read to on WRAD, in 2022 the target remains 3 million children. However, the NGO aims to sign up 1 million families, with the help of partners such as Standard Bank, Liberty Community Trust, VW and City of Cape Town Library and Information Services to commit to reading regularly to their children over the next three years, starting on WRAD.
The importance of families
‘Where schools play a key role in teaching children the mechanics of reading, families play an equally key role in helping children to fall in love with stories and books,’ says Katie Huston, acting Director of Nal’ibali. ‘Children who regularly hear fun and engaging stories understand how books work and are more motivated and better equipped to learn to read themselves and to keep reading.’
Research also shows that families who participate in WRAD keep up a sustained habit of reading and sharing stories. Family literacy is essential for many reasons; one of the biggest is that when family members can read and write, it helps break the cycle of poverty.
Here’s the story
‘For children to enjoy a story, they must be able to understand it! Because of this we commission a brand-new story in all 11 official South African languages each year,’ explains Huston. The story is also made available in South African Sign Language and Braille through partners, SLED (Sign Language Education and Development) and Blind SA. ‘We then encourage adults everywhere to pledge to read it aloud to children on the day,’ Huston concludes.
This year's story, 'A Party at the Park', was written by Mabel Mnensa, author of the children's book 'Kantiga Finds the Perfect Name.'
Reaching into Africa
‘A Party at the Park’ has also been translated into an additional six languages (Swahili, Shona, French, Chichewa, Portuguese and Lingala) to cater for the approximately two million children who are foreign nationals living in South Africa. In addition, neighbouring African countries have been invited to join Nal’ibali’s WRAD celebration. This is a landmark step for the campaign as it starts to build a pan-African resolve to get children and families reading, and share its reading resources beyond South Africa’s borders.
Get the story and pledge to read aloud
Members of the public can join Nal’ibali’s 2022 WRAD celebration by making their pledge to read the official story with their children on Wednesday, 2 February via the campaign’s website, www.nalibali.org, or by WhatsApping ‘WRAD’ to 060 044 2254. The official story is available for free download from these platforms and pledgers can choose to keep reading with Nal’ibali throughout the year by opting into its family-reading programme.
Pledgers are also encouraged to share pictures of their read-aloud sessions online, tagging Nal’ibali (@NalibaliSA) or using the hashtag #NalibaliWRAD22.