You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child. – Dr Seuss
Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has been providing a free, special story for children to celebrate World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) for over a decade. 2023 is no different. Once again, Nal'ibali is calling on all South Africans to join them in reading aloud to the children in their lives on WRAD, which is celebrated on Wednesday, 1 February.
For some it will be the first, important step to habitual reading while for others it will be a continuation of their reading journey. For WRAD 2023, Nal’ibali aims to reach their goal of reading aloud to 3 million children.
This year’s custom-written story is by well-known children’s author Tumisang Shongwe and is called ‘Every day’s a story’. The story is available on the Nal'ibali website and is free to download in all 11 official South African languages – as well as in braille.
Ben Rycroft, Head of Communications and Content at Nal’ibali says, “While this year’s WRAD campaign will again focus nationally on encouraging families to pledge to read aloud, there will be a strong community outreach component, brought to life by our community projects that have a strong home visit focus. As always, this will be a collaborative effort with the Department of Basic Education, the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) and other key partners.
“To add to the excitement, this WRAD event is going to be truly global! Nal'ibali has been invited by LitWorld®, an international non-profit which strengthens kids and communities through the power of stories and Scholastic, the children’s publisher and the free Storyvoice app, to participate in a worldwide WRAD-a-thon on 1 February. Shongwe will join international award winning authors and reading advocates between 8:00am and 8:30am to host a series of live interactive read-aloud shows.’
Why reading aloud?
“There are so many benefits to reading aloud to young children – and babies – and reading a story aloud together,” says Rycroft. “Most importantly, parents and caregivers need to understand the connection between reading and storytelling and a child’s future success. Young children who are read to in languages they understand, perform better in school, develop better memories, stronger vocabularies and comprehension skills.”
When you enjoy a story with your children every day, it:
- Shows them that you value books and understand the importance of reading
- Shows them that reading is an enjoyable and rewarding activity
- Shows them how books work
- Gives you things to talk about as a family
- Builds a strong bond between you
- Allows them to enjoy stories they can’t yet read on their own
The importance of reading cannot be stressed enough. After all, ‘reading is the gateway for children that makes all other learning possible.’
The impact of stories at home, at school and in the community
Reading underpins all school learning and a child who can read with confidence is able to perform better in all school subjects. Understanding the questions in a science exam or instructions for a maths project is only possible when a child can read for meaning.
The beauty of stories is that they can be shared anytime, anywhere. Building a story routine in the home helps children adopt the habit of reading … and it’s fun!
So, wherever children and caregivers find themselves on 1 February, Nal’ibali is encouraging them to start or keep going with their reading routine, using the special story.
Supporting a continued literacy journey
Those who pledge to read the WRAD story as a family can sign up for Nal’ibali’s ongoing family reading journey. This means they’ll receive regular stories, news and literacy tips throughout the year, making it easy to keep up the habit of reading.
About the author – Miss T
‘Every day’s a story’ was written by Tumisang Shongwe (fondly known as Miss T), who is a children’s author and literacy advocate. She is passionate about writing short stories and children’s literature that are inclusive of all South African cultures and identities.
Her published books are: Naledi’s New Look (2020), Shongololo (2021) and Meerkat Magic (2022). Shongwe enjoys reading to children and says, “It’s the sparkle in their eyes and their challenging questions that I enjoy most about reading and sharing stories with them.”
A special reading by Shongwe of ‘Every day’s a story’, will be held live (in English) on the Nal’ibali Facebook page at 5:00pm on WRAD.
Help is at hand
Story cards of ‘Every day’s a story’ are available on Nal’ibali’s website [www.nalibali.org/wrad2023] in all 11 official languages. Plus, copies will be distributed by the field team at community outreach events throughout the country.
To ensure children benefit from the simple power of stories and join in the nationwide celebration, there is a short guide for caregivers on how to share the official WRAD story with young children. The guide is also available on the website in seven official languages.
“WRAD is now in its 11th year”, says Rycroft. “For 2023, we will increase our community engagements, hosting live read events in locations around the country, organised and lead by our field teams. Each event will be unique to the area and community and will feature a special guest to read aloud on the day.”
Besides the pledges, story cards, regional activities and events, Nal’ibali will also issue a 16-page edition of its bilingual reading-for-enjoyment newspaper supplement, which will contain the special story.
How to get involved?
Visit www.nalibali.org/wrad2023 or WhatsApp ‘WRAD’ to 060 044 2254 to make your pledge and get the free official story in your language. Share pictures of your read-aloud sessions online using the hashtag #MyWRAD2023.
Get ready South Africa, it’s time to be heard – and read aloud!