Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has created a set of specially illustrated public storytelling seats to inspire children and caregivers to sit and share stories together. Made out of recycled bathtubs, and placed in public places around Cape Town, the seats form part of the campaign’s current ‘Story Power. Bring it home’ drive, aimed at raising awareness about the power of stories to spark children’s potential and put them on the path to educational success. The storytelling seats were launched at the V&A Waterfront on Saturday December 6, with a special storytelling session
“Research has shown that children who read for pleasure perform better in the classroom, not just in language related skills like vocabulary and spelling, but also in subjects like Maths. And of course, sharing stories with children gets them interested in books and reading,” explains Carole Bloch, director of PRAESA (The Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign.
The seats, which were designed and developed by local sculptor Verna Jooste and illustrated by artist Mieke van der Merwe, depict a colourful scene from The Smell Thief – one of more than 25 stories that have been developed and translated by PRAESA, which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign. A message on the seats details how people can access the story, along with others, in the language of their choice via the Nal’ibali web- and mobisites.
“Sadly, only around five percent of parents in South Africa read to their children, so it is our hope that by placing the seats in high-traffic public spaces, we’ll create a conversation around the major opportunity parents have to help their children become successful learners, simply by reading and sharing stories with them at home. The seats also create a physical space where caregivers can enjoy storytelling activities with their kids and pick up free reading materials, including the Nal’ibali literacy supplement,” adds Sally Mills, Nal’ibali Networks and Communications Coordinator.
Kicking off such activities and prompting a tradition of story sharing at home, the launch at the V&A featured a fun storytelling to bring to life the story depicted on the seats. Nal’ibali promoters distributed literacy materials outlining the benefits of reading and sharing stories with children and engaged members of the public on reading for enjoyment.
Selected to be one of the 460 transformative design projects to showcase the role that design can play in social transformation, the Nal’ibali storytelling seats can next be viewed at the Central Library in Cape Town as part of their tour across the province.