Nal’ibali is calling on all South Africans to join them in celebrating one of the most important dates in the literacy calendar, World Read Aloud Day, on Wednesday 04 March. Raising awareness of the importance of reading aloud for children’s literacy development, and attempting to break its read-aloud record from 2014, the campaign is asking adults across the country to read aloud the same story on the same day to the children in their lives. Each year, Nal’ibali commissions a new story to share on this day, and makes it available in all 11 official languages. This year’s story has been written by one of South Africa’s best-loved storytellers, Gcina Mhlophe.
“Listening to a well read story nourishes our minds by stimulating thoughts and ideas"
"Last year, through a huge and wonderful collaboration between many partners – librarians, teachers, parents and NGO’s, just under 48 000 children were read aloud to. This year we hope to break that record and share another day of reading and story with even more children and adults,” comments Carole Bloch, director of PRAESA (The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign together with partners.
“Listening to a well read story nourishes our minds by stimulating thoughts and ideas, and stimulating language development,” continues Bloch. "It is also a great motivating force for children to feel the power of story and to want to learn to read,” she explains.
“And, it’s so important to share stories with children in their home languages because access to mother tongue literacy materials offers children the solid base from which to learn a second language, and other school subjects,” adds Smangele Mathebula, Nal’ibali Campaign Driver.
This year’s special World Read Aloud Day story, Sisanda’s Gift, will be issued in all 11 official South African languages and will be freely available for download (as a print or audio story) in any of these languages via the Nal’ibali website, mobisite and Mxit app from the end of February. Those participating will also be able to sign up on these platforms to share how many children they will be reading to.
The story, together with additional information and activities, will also appear in a special edition of the campaign’s weekly reading-for-enjoyment supplement. Produced in partnership with Times Media, the Nal’ibali supplement is the only bilingual literacy resource of its kind, offering literacy tips, stories and reading activities in English, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans. Broadcast partner, SABC Education, will also ensure that the story is read aloud on air in all official languages (see participating titles and stations below).
Further assisting the campaign to reach as many children as possible, the following partners have already signed up to help put the story in the hands of even more caregivers:
Corporate partners, South African Airways and Ackermans, will be distributing the story to their staff nationwide, reaching a collective of more than 17 000 staff members. For those who sign up to read the story via the Nal’ibali web- and mobisites, SAA has also donated a prize of two domestic airfare tickets for one lucky winner.
"Sharing a story with children is a beautiful way
of showing that you care"
The Free State, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal arms of the Department of Basic Education will be ensuring the story is read aloud at schools in their respective provinces, and access to relevant materials will be made available to all provincial departments.
The Family Literacy Project will be sharing the story with its KwaZulu-Natal based family literacy groups, while The Bookery, University of Cape Town’s Schools Improvement Initiative, Rotary District 9350 and False Bay College will be promoting and hosting read aloud sessions in the greater Western Cape. Sikhula Sonke, a community-based organisation addressing the need for quality early childhood development, and Harare Library, have also pledged to promote the event in Khayelitsha.
Fellow literacy organisation, The Shine Centre, as well the National Professional Teacher’s Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) will also be distributing the story via their networks of teachers and volunteers. Online, LIASA and the SA Booksellers Association will be promoting the day through their digital platforms and, FunDza will offer the story to readers on its mobi network, which includes a responsive site, Mxit app and Android app called ‘FunDzapp’. Global NGO, WorldReader, has committed to sharing it with its audiences in parts of the world that primarily have access to only low-end phones.
Finally, Nal’ibali Literacy Mentors will be hosting read-aloud sessions with members of the campaign’s network of over 300 reading clubs. And, giving her own special reading, Mhlophe will be visiting the Mbuyisa Makhubu Primary School Nal’ibali Reading Club and reading aloud to over 400 children at the school in Orlando West, Soweto.
“For me, the most important thing is for children to feel loved in many different ways, and sharing a story with them is a beautiful way of showing that you care. Of course the secret is that reading for pleasure isn’t just fun for children, it feels tremendously good for us adults too!” shared Mhlophe.