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Literacy Blog

How can we fix our education system?  That question preoccupies our national mind - and not without cause. We fail to prepare enough people for basic jobs, let alone to sustain a sophisticated knowledge economy.  If that is the question, the inevitable answer is that we need good teachers, quality textbooks and enough time in the classroom. But what if we asked a slightly...
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Instil wonder through reading

Posted on
March, 14th 2013
Socrates said all thinking begins with wonder. So how do we develop a sense of wonder in children? By reading wonderful stories to them. Tomorrow is World Read Aloud Day - a day to celebrate reading aloud to children. But there is work to be done before all children can expect the regular delight of a skilled reader who breathes life into a story. Reading (and learning...
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Here’s a piece of common sense familiar to most of us adults (well at least, those of us who have ever watched an episode of the Dr Phil show on TV):  you can’t keep doing the same thing continuously and expect to get different results.  So, if you’re faced with a huge challenge like improving literacy levels in South Africa, you clearly can’t be...
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The simple profound thing we all can do

Posted on
February, 27th 2013
In this society which urgently needs to educate citizens to be articulate and literate, there is something simple but profound we can all do – we can tell and read stories to children. Far from being a luxury, the story habit establishes in children the sturdy bedrock on which to grow the power of empathy and an educated mind. It starts with enjoyment. Take Tara: Tara’s...
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New Year reading resolutions

Posted on
January, 29th 2013
Do you make resolutions at the beginning of each new year? Many people’s resolutions involve giving up something they enjoy to improve their lives. But that’s where reading resolutions are different – they are simply about doing more of what you enjoy! Try our suggestions below to make reading and stories a part of your family’s everyday life! And download our Story Power Pacts for you and...
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Stories travel – by word of mouth and in writing. Stories for children have been adapted over time from adult stories, often by translators, who have been responsible for crafting and shaping stories to suit their audiences across time and space. Think of Aesop’s Fables, told by Aesop, a slave and storyteller in Ancient Greece in the 5 century BCE. Aesop’s Fables moved for centuries across continents,...
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When did you last share a story? Was it this morning, when you told a neighbour about what happened yesterday in the check-out queue at the supermarket? Was it yesterday, when your daughter brought home a history project about the first democratic election in South Africa and asked you what you did on that day? Was it last weekend, when you and your friends...
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A simple reading plan shows the way

Posted on
December, 5th 2012
Recently I visited Pratham, a large non-profit organisation that promotes reading across India. I was intrigued by their claim that they could get young children to learn to read within six weeks and that they could help those lagging behind to catch up. If we could do the same, I thought, we could begin to overcome one of the biggest challenges to education in South Africa –...
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Great stories to help our country grow

Posted on
December, 4th 2012
One of my favourite storybook characters as a child was Mrs Tiggywinkle from The Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle by Beatrix Potter. She was a hedgehog who miraculously reinvented herself daily – without ever compromising her true identity – into an industrious entrepreneur who ran a laundry service! There she was bustling across the rolling green hills of the English countryside, a world that for me...
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The magic and power of stories and play

Posted on
December, 4th 2012
I remember ‘pretend’ play as a child. Sometimes alone, murmuring quietly to myself in a story, slipping through characters and time, being whoever I wanted to be and making things happen in ways that were larger and brighter than life. Or with my sister, moving in an enchanted space where I’d be the princess and she, being the youngest, would have to jump at...
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