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Archive for the ‘Childrens Literature’ Category

Get set up to read with your children and Nal’ibali in 2018

To help set caregivers up to read with their children in the new year, Nal’ibali – the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, has compiled a special calendar highlighting some of the major literacy activities taking place in 2018. Complete with instructions on how to collect the cut-out-and-keep storybooks included in each edition of the campaign’s multilingual supplement, it will also assist young or new readers to collect and build their own mini-libraries over the course of the year.

 
“We’re excited about this resource which we hope will help to promote a culture of reading-for-enjoyment in our country. Most South African families live beyond easy reach of a public library and very few households have their own collection of storybooks for children to read or choose from,” says Jade Jacobsohn, Managing Director at Nal’ibali. “By using the calendar as a guide, caregivers and teachers can help children collect 30 stories this year and create their own personalised story-powered book boxes to keep them in.”

Research shows that children who are exposed to books and stories in their home languages, and who are read to regularly and right from birth, do better than their peers in the classroom, regardless of their social standing or economic circumstances.

 
To increase access to stories and literacy materials in different SA languages, Nal’ibali donates and delivers over 100 000 copies of its supplement to schools, libraries, reading clubs and fellow literacy organisations every second week during school term time. Members of the public can find copies in selected newspaper titles, or download them directly from the Nal’ibali website.

Created in partnership with the award-winning literacy organisation, PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa), the stories carried in the supplement are selected to promote and support South African authors and illustrators, and to expose children to a variety of different language and drawing styles. Stories are reproduced free of charge with special permission from the publishers and translated by PRAESA.

Currently the supplement is published in six different language combinations including English-isiZulu, English-isiXhosa, English-Afrikaans and English-Sepedi, and this year the campaign is excited to be adding Xitsonga and Setswana to this list from April.

“There is a need for collective action in motivating SA children to read, and it needs to be consistent. However small adults and caregivers may think this simple activity is, regularly spending time reading and sharing stories with children can have a massive and cumulative impact – helping them to reach their life potential,” concludes Jacobson.

To encourage continued reading throughout the year, Nal’ibali will be awarding spot prizes of additional books in a range of SA languages to readers who share pictures of their growing libraries on its Facebook page and Twitter feed (@NalibaliSA).

Nal’ibali supplements can be found in the Tiso Blackstar newspapers listed below, or downloaded directly from the Nal’ibali website (www.nalibali.org) where copies of the calendar can also be accessed.

• KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng: Sunday World – Sunday (English/isiZulu)
• Free State: Sunday World – Sunday (English/Sesotho)
• Limpopo: Sunday World – Sunday (English/Sepedi)
• Western Cape – Sunday Times Express – Sunday (English/isiXhosa)
• Eastern Cape – Daily Dispatch – Tuesday (English/isiXhosa)
• Eastern Cape – The Herald – Thursday (English/isiXhosa)

For more information about the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, free children’s stories in a range of SA languages, tips on reading and writing with children, details on how to set up a reading club or to request training, visit www.nalibali.org, www.nalibali.mobi, or find them on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.


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“If you read, there’s no limit to what you can do”, writes the prize winner of the Nal’ibali/Sunday Times Storybook competition, Mangaliso Ngomane

BooksLIVE, in collaboration with Nal’ibali, recently ran a giveaway competition, offering 10 lucky readers the opportunity to win a copy of Storytime: 10 South African stories for children.

The first Sunday Times Storybook was launched three years ago to allow children from disadvantaged backgrounds to experience the magic of stories, especially in their own languages.

The Sunday Times has distributed two million copies of the first book in all 11 official languages free of charge to school, libraries and reading clubs across the country.

We asked readers to tell us why it’s so important to nurture a love of stories and reading among school children who have limited access to books.

Read Mangaliso Ngomane’s winning response:

Reading exposes a child to the avenues of their dreams so that they may be opened to the many available possibilities.

Thankfully there are many age appropriate stories in their own indigenous language to assist in early childhood development by relaying salient principles in a relatable way that they can understand and appreciate from a tender age.

Like our dearly departed president Nelson Mandela once said “talk to a man in his language and it goes to his heart”. That is especially true about a child reading in their language and thus taking pride in their cultural heritage and it also preserves their culture for future generations.

Considering all of this it is inconceivable that there are still children that have limited access to books and not just books but interesting books to nurture their love for reading

I for one have a toddler daughter for whom I’m always trying to get books and establish a library for in either siSwati (our home language) or isiZulu (the next best thing: both are Nguni languages).

I read to hear now and when she’s old enough to read on her own there will be a smooth transition into siSwati literature and an overall love for reading.

I recognize in myself, I love speaking siSwati and reading it now however because I picked up on siSwati as a First Additional Language in high school I had to work a little bit harder at it specifically and at reading any language generally.

I’m trying to correct that in her because if you read, there’s no limit to what you can do so I want to equipment her mind with the best possible tool with which to navigate the world.


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78% of grade four learners in SA cannot read for meaning. Read the managing director at Nal’ibali’s response on solving the country’s illiteracy crisis

Jade Jacobsohn, managing director at Nal’ibali

 
Jade Jacobsohn, managing director at Nal’ibali, recently wrote the following response to the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) report highlighting SA literacy levels. The report sheds light on South Africa’s devastating literacy crisis, revealing that 78% of grade four learners in South Africa cannot read for meaning. Here’s what Jacobsohn recommends we do to solve the country’s disastrous illiteracy rates:

Where will you be in ten years’ time? Whether it’s a growing business or growing family, we all make plans for our future. Yet our future selves are either enabled or limited by our broader context. So, what is our national context in a generation’s time?

Results from a global literacy study last week paint a devastating picture. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) assessing children’s reading comprehension has placed South African children last in fifty countries

The stats? 78% of Grade Four learners in South Africa cannot read for basic meaning in any national language. In other words, eight out of ten nine-year-olds in South Africa are currently functionally illiterate.

This survey presents the socio-economic equivalent of Cape Town’s taps running dry on Day Zero. Simply put, it’s the most urgent wake-up call our country has had on what our future looks like, and we need to respond accordingly.

There’s a reason the PIRLS test targeted Grade Fours. The age is a tipping point: if a child remains functionally illiterate at age nine, there is a strong correlation to them remaining so, which in turn leads to an inevitably steep school drop-out shelf.

A 78% illiteracy rate in Grade Four means the next generation will enter the workforce without these very basic skills needed to raise themselves out of poverty. It means a generation without the capacity to learn, to teach, to lead. More alarmingly, it means a generation unable to pass along literacy to their own children, exacerbating the situation still further with every passing year.

In the United States, there is an alarmingly precise correlation between the number of illiterate third grade boys and future incarceration statistics (the United States, for reference, scored just 4% on the PIRLS survey). In South Africa, boys have fallen behind to such an extent that they are now a full year of learning behind girls of the same age – the second highest gender gap in the world.

The PIRLS survey also attempted to quantify social inhibitors to education, such as bullying amongst peers. The results? We are also world leaders there, with 42% of South African Grade Fours experiencing bullying weekly (by comparison, 15% of learners reported the same experience in the US and UK).

What kind of future can we build when our children cannot build empathy?

Government is putting urgent plans in place to secure our resources – sustainable water, electricity supply and so on. We all weigh in on these because South Africans care about what our country looks like and we’re willing to make a noise when we feel a lack of leadership on these matters.

Where is the noise here?

If literacy is everybody’s problem, then it’s also everybody’s solution.

These results need to be the rallying call to the heart of our nation.

The good news – and there is much of it – is that change can happen. After all, Japan and more recently Chile, turned around their literacy rates by simply making it a holistic national priority.

But how do we start with a similar approach in South Africa? Where do we begin?

Take heart that many of us began a long time ago. NGOs have determinedly been stepping up to the plate, introducing and quietly maintaining extraordinary, effective, and targeted initiatives to support literacy development across the country.

Nal’ibali, for example, operates country-wide to spark children’s potential by creating opportunities for children to fall in love with books and stories in home languages as well as English. Research proves that regular reading and a strong foundation of language in children’s mother tongues are two of the most significant indicators of future academic success – even more than socio-economic status. That’s food for thought in a country where the poverty trap seems inescapable.

We are hardly tackling this problem alone – it takes a nation to nurture a reading culture and Nal’ibali works hand-in-hand with hundreds of partners. Together we’ve seen extraordinary successes in our five years of operation. We are fighting the odds and winning; helping to root a culture of reading in South African by immersing children, caregivers, and communities in great and well told stories in relaxed and meaningful ways rather than focusing on the mechanical literacy instruction so common in the classroom.

We are weaving a web of support and creative solutions that, given enough backing, will catch our learners when they fall through the cracks of the formal education system. Just imagine what we could do if our work was amplified and enthusiastically championed across the country!

It’s time for us to join forces.

Those who can’t in financial or practical terms can still play a vital part, simply by picking up a book. Reading or giving a good book to one child may feel like a tiny act, but the ramifications of these small, everyday actions can have startling consequences down the line. Stories teach us at a linguistic level – the basic vocabulary, spelling and grammar pour in unconsciously. But stories also teach us at a human level – they help us to imagine worlds and possibilities that are different to the ones we are currently experiencing.

In South Africa, right now, that’s surely a talent that every one of us needs to learn to develop.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign or to access children’s stories in a range of SA languages visit www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi or find us on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.


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Quality education begins at home: read Jenny Hobbs’s advice on fixing South Africa’s literacy crisis

“Education is the new weapon in the liberation struggle, and our youth must arm themselves with books.”
Adelaide Tambo

 

The literacy crisis among South Africa’s youth is worse than expected. It was recently announced that eight out of 10 grade four pupils still cannot ‘read at appropriate level’. Dr Nic Spaull of Sellenbosch University is quoted saying that an inability to read properly means ‘many pupils never get a firm grasp on the first rung of the academic ladder and fall further and further behind.’

Co-creator and former managing director of the Franschhoek Literary Festival (and author!), Jenny Hobbs, composed the following piece on the necessity of nurturing a love of reading among children, including helpful tips on encouraging a reading culture in South Africa:

Here’s the important thing about quality education: it starts with you, parents and caregivers, from the time babies are born. Talking and singing to them, giving them words and songs and stories, is the best way to ensure that they learn to talk and read confidently. These are the building blocks of education and success in life.

• Parents, gogos, caregivers and child minders: talk and sing often to babies and toddlers, passing on the magic of spoken words and singing.
• Speak from the beginning in your mother tongues, adding words and songs from other languages (especially English) as they grow. Languages are easily picked up by small kids and you will be giving them invaluable free skills.
• As soon as they can sit on your lap, tell them stories and read to them from books, magazines or catalogues, letting them turn the pages – however clumsily! – to discover the excitements on the next page.
• Encourage them to talk, chat and tell their own stories. Teach them the songs you sang and the games you played, family history and traditions. Children who own many words talk easily with friends and adults.
• Take them as young as you can to libraries to enjoy exciting, different books and choose some to bring home. Municipal and community libraries are free, and librarians are always ready to help with advice.
• Give children books as presents. Ask at the library for the late, great Chris van Wyk’s Ouma Ruby’s Secret, which tells the story of how his loving grandma bought him books in second-hand shops, always asking him to choose and then read them out loud to her. He only realised when he grew older that she couldn’t read – like so many elders who were denied education.

• Seeing parents read newspapers and books is inspiring for children. Keep books in your home and make reading a cool thing to do.
• All reading is good reading. Look for book sales and street vendors selling comics and well-priced picture and story books. Visit a library to access the online South African book sites for children and teens.
• Enrol children as soon as possible in early learning centres to expose them to new skills and the first formal steps to reading.
• Fight harder and more fiercely for schools with libraries that actively promote reading and a culture of independent learning.

Note: The government mandates weekly library lessons in schools which all receive library allocations, but random bookshelves are not enough. Libraries need assistants to help readers and control the books. For more information, see the downloadable school library booklet at http://www.flf.co.za/schools/.

• Link older children and teens with the FunDza Literacy Trust for daily reading on their cellphones.
• Readers should recommend books they’ve enjoyed and circulate personal libraries in their communities. Record who has borrowed each book by taking a cellphone photo with them holding it.

Surely it’s time for VAT on books to be abolished – it’s a tax on learning!

Online sites for South African children’s & young adult books:

Biblionef: http://biblionefsa.org.za/
Book Dash: http://bookdash.org/
Children’s Book Network: www.childrensbook.co.za
Fundza: www.fundza.co.za
Nal’ibali: http://nalibali.org/
Wordworks: http://www.wordworks.org.za/

11-year-old Lindiwe Makhoba from Mangaung, Bloemfontein, the 2017 winner of Nal’ibali’s annual Story Bosso contest

 

Quotes about reading to live by:

It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller will never die in Africa, that all children in the world may experience the wonder of books, and that they will never lose the capacity to enlarge their earthly dwelling place with the magic of stories. – Nelson Mandela

The key to a healthy society is a thriving community of storytellers. Stories are what really make us human. – Franco Sacchi

Reading books at home is an important part of the early development of children during which they confront in a pleasurable activity those human passions of love and hate, of ambition and desire, of change and hope. – Jonathan Jansen

If we want to break down barriers between ourselves across race, linguistic and cultural lines, we must promote reading. Fiction forces you to live in other people’s worlds. It develops our empathetic capacities … it can and does help to build bridges. Reading will help us to humanise each other. In a time of violence, we must spread the word about the power of books to make South African life a little easier. – Eusebius McKaiser

A book can change your life. You can read yourself out of poverty. – Annari van der Merwe

Books not only change the mind, they can change the course of society. – Jonathan Jansen

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture – just get people to stop reading them. – Ray Bradbury


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Giveaway! Win a copy of Storytime: 10 South African stories for children

BooksLIVE, in collaboration with Nal’ibali, will be giving away 10 copies of Storytime: 10 South African stories for children – and just in time for the impending 2018 school year!

The first Sunday Times Storybook was launched three years ago to allow children from disadvantaged backgrounds to experience the magic of stories, especially in their own languages. The Sunday Times has distributed two million copies of the first book in all 11 official languages free of charge to school, libraries and reading clubs across the country.

Storytime is a delightful collection of new stories by skilled writers such as Wendy Hartmann, Chris van Wyk, Maryanne Bester, Carole Bloch, Kagiso Legeso Molope, and Tuelo Gabonewe. Various illustrators contributed to the selection of enchanting stories, including Joan Rankin, Paddy Bouma, Shayle Bester, with a gorgeous cover by none other than Madam & Eve‘s Rico!

“We have been fortunate to work with a number of talented South African authors and illustrators in putting together this magical collection of stories. A treasured storybook can be just the thing to spark a love of reading in children and this is precisely our intention – to skill children to become readers for life,” comments Patti McDonald, publisher of Times Media Education’s supplements.

“Books and stories deepen our thinking and understanding by stretching our imagination while encouraging creative problem-solving. To have stories that our children can relate to in their home languages is an invaluable asset that we need to keep growing in our country,” adds Dr Carole Bloch, Director of PRAESA.

If you would like to receive a copy of Storytime, simply tell us why it’s so important to nurture a love of stories and reading among school children who have limited access to books. E-mail your answer to Patti (Patti.McDonald@tisoblackstar.co.za), and always remember the profound words of Nelson Mandela: “It is my wish that the voice of the storyteller will never die in Africa, that all children in the world may experience the wonder of books, and that they will never lose the capacity to enlarge their earthly dwelling place with the magic of stories.”


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Meet the two women nurturing a love of stories among Deaf children

A previous version of this article was published with a language error: ‘Deaf’ was spelled with a lower case ‘d’. This article refers to the Deaf community as a whole and the difference Kerrin Kokot and Jayne Batzofin are making in encouraging a love of storytelling among the Deaf community in South Africa.

Carla Lever recently conducted an interview with filmmakers, storytellers and language activists Kerrin Kokot and Jayne Batzofin for Nal’ibali’s weekly column. The three of them discussed Kerrin and Jayne’s latest TV project focused on nurturing a love of storytelling among Deaf children, the education opportunities for Deaf children in South Africa, and heartwarming stories of working with Deaf children.

Kerrin Kokot and Jayne Batzofin, ©Pascale Neushchäfer

 

Your latest TV project and envisaged accompanying book for Deaf children – Let’s Pretend With Fumi and Friends – is pretty groundbreaking in South Africa. Can you tell us a little about the story?

KK: In extraordinary storyteller Jay’s home, a curious rabbit called Fumi discovers how to use its imagination to help make-believe creatures solve problems and, by doing so, learns valuable life skills.
JB: Let’s Pretend with Fumi and Friends is a world where stories come to life through imagination and sign language, and problems are solved through creativity and team-work.

What stage of development is Fumi at?

KK: The first project phase (concept development) is complete. We developed everything with Deaf education partners and a television script editor and adapted the story concepts and artworks with feedback from children. Those visuals would feed straight into our visual if we ran a book later.

We’re now in project development stage, working with excellent film and education partners to finalise the project and distribution plan, budget and schedule. Our partners are helping us raise finance for production, as well as a training programme to upskill Deaf animators, designers and other production staff. It’s incredibly exciting!

Concept art for Let’s Pretend with Fumi and Friends

 

In your experience, Jayne, what are education options and resources like for Deaf children in South Africa?

JB: In the last few years there has been a strong focus to develop teachers’ signing skills and capacity by organisations like SLED (Sign Language Education Development). Sign language resources are still incredibly limited for choice and often outdated in material, though. Deaf children deserve as much variety as hearing children.

Are there enough qualified SASL teachers in South Africa?

JB: For me, we really need more qualified teachers who are Deaf themselves. I watch Deaf teaching assistants make huge progress with children because they share the same mother tongue language, but because of the way our education system is structured, they don’t have the means to qualify as teachers.

How are you using your skills to tackle the problem?

JB: In addition to Fumi, I’m using theatre productions and drama exercises to create playful resources as alternative tools to developing sign language literacy. How dull to only learn a language in a formal classroom setting! Language is learned through acquisition, which is strengthened when taught in a variety of mediums.

Are there any unique considerations to bear in mind when creating literacy resources for Deaf children?

KK: Deaf children seldom get development in creativity and abstract thinking skills – learning is often extremely functional. SLED (Sign Language Education and Development) pushed us to develop unique tools within the programme to boost those skills and animation is a great fit for doing that.

Kerrin, you’ve got tons of experience in making stories visually compelling and fun. What have the challenges been in conceptualising this kind of project?

KK: One of the challenges has been making this series accessible to Deaf children around the world. Sign language is like any language: It is specific to regions. A South African Sign Language (SASL) programme won’t be easily understood by, say, British Deaf audiences, who use British Sign Language (BSL). To combat this, we’ve made the most expensive parts of the production – the animated parts – universally accessible. The show’s live-action presenter, the only character that communicates in sign language, can be sourced regionally and inserted into the animated world using relatively inexpensive post-production techniques.

Jayne, are there any moments working with Deaf children over the years that you’ve found particularly heartwarming?

JB: So many! Obviously the children when they laugh or light up from within because adults besides their teachers are signing with them. But I also love watching the teachers be amazed by how bright and creative their students can be when given a different way to learn sign language.

How can people find out more and get involved with Fumi?

KK: We’d love to share resources with, and learn from, other organisations seeking to promote Deaf literacy. Please get in touch on email at hello@fumiandfriends.com. Fans can follow the project on Facebook: @fumiandfriends.

Why is storytelling so important – for adults, as well as children?

KK: Adults and children gain valuable skills through storytelling: language, social, abstract, conceptual, and so many more. Stories are integral to human society, shaping our worldviews, our very existence. A world without stories would be a world of robots!
JB: It evokes and develops imagination, creativity and fantasy! These skills are of fundamental importance in childhood (and literacy) development, and equally essential for adults to connect with each other and their often neglected playful selves.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit: www.nalibali.org.


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Read an excerpt from the third book in Bontle Senne’s Afrocentric fantasy adventure, Shadow Chasers

Only the Shadow Chasers, with their magical knives, can save the world from the evil that lives in the dreamworld.

“Scary riveting fun! Escape in this magical and modern South African fantasy.” – Nonikiwe Mashologu, childhood literacy specialist

“I love the book because it’s scary and cool. Nom is a very brave girl.” – Gugulethu Machin, tweeny reader

Flame of Truth is the third in the Shadow Chasers series, an Afrocentric fantasy adventure for pre-teens (9 to 12 year olds.)

Bontle Senne is a book blogger and literacy advocate. She is a former managing director at the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation, a trustee of READ Educational Trust and a part owner of feminist trade publishing house Modjaji Books.
 
 
Read an excerpt from Bontle’s extraordinary book:

They hear the piercing scream of the Lightning Bird as another ball of flames falls from the dark sky and explodes on the patch of sand at the cave opening.

Nom and Zithembe lie on their bellies in the dirt, trying to stay low in the shadows so that the Lightning Bird does not come into the cave to find them.

“Nom, when we get out of here … ,” Zithembe whispers bitterly, pressing his cheek to the ground so he can look at Nom and she can see how annoyed he is.

Nom rolls her eyes and shifts her attention to the cave opening. She can’t hear the Lightning Bird, but that doesn’t mean it’s not waiting for them just outside the cave, ready to drop another ball of fire. “There was no way I could have known that it was going to come all the way up to the mountains,” Nom says. “I thought these things stayed in the forest!”

“Who told you that?” Zithembe snaps.

“Rosy! Well, kind of Rosy. I think that’s what she said …” Nom thinks back to a few weeks ago when she and Rosy, Zithembe’s cousin, had come into the dreamworld and were chased by the Lightning Bird. The giant black bird had flown over them, circling, stalking. With its long, curved beak, shaggy chest feathers, two sets of wings, and two long, orange legs, it had terrified her and brought back Rosy’s darkest memories.

Now, when Nom reaches out and her hand finds the cave wall, the stone feels cool and wet. She feels the magic of the dreamworld buzzing lightly through the tips of her fingers. It’s the same feeling she sometimes gets when she holds her knife. A Shadow Chaser’s knife has powers that she and Zithembe are only just starting to understand.

“We could go back,” she suggests, already guessing what Zithembe will think of that idea. Zithembe groans as a clap of thunder booms from outside the cave.

“We cannot just go back,” he says. “We have to find my mother. How can we find her if we go back?”

“Zee, we’re not going to be able to get out of here without getting roasted. We can use the special powers in your knife to get home, and then try another night. We can come back in a few days with – I don’t know – a plan or something.”

It is weird for Nom to suddenly be the one with a plan. She’s never really been known for thinking things through. They got stuck here in this cave because when Nom saw the Lightning Bird she turned and ran before Zithembe could even ask what was going on. They had scrambled further up the mountain they were exploring. Then Nom dragged Zithembe into the cave just as the balls of fire began to rain down on them, burning holes the size of soccer balls into the sand. Nom had been right to be afraid, but she could have at least warned him before she started running.
It was so often “act and then think” with her. At least Zithembe had finally gotten used to that.

“I have a better idea,” Zithembe says. “You should use your knife to turn yourself into a Lightning Bird.”

“What?” Nom asks, even though she’s pretty sure she heard him.

“You should turn yourself into a Lightning Bird,” Zithembe repeats, replaying what his mother had told him about the power of Nom’s blue knife to change her into someone – or something – else. “I’ll jump on your back and we can fly out of here and into the forest.”

If they weren’t trapped, crawling on their stomachs in the dark, Nom would punch Zithembe. “But the forest is where it lives!” she says, feeling deeply frustrated.

Nom remembers the forest from her visit to the dreamworld with Rosy, when they fought the Mami Wata.

She remembers the muffled sounds of moans, crying and wild giggling drifting out to them from inside the dark and unknowable Thathe Vondo Forest. Rosy had explained that the forest exists in the real world and the dreamworld at the same time. In the real world, the people who live near the forest believe that it is full of spirits and monsters. In the real world, the people are just as afraid of the Lightning Bird which they call Ndadzi, as Nom is, here in the dreamworld.

“OK, then we fly to the Clearing or to the Lake of Memories,” Zithembe suggests.

Being annoyed isn’t helping, so Nom sighs and tries to be kind instead.

She says, “Zee, listen to me. There are soldiers of the Army of Shadows everywhere. Even now, the shadow men must be marching towards us. Your knife’s power can get us out of here safely. I know you want to find your mom. I want to find her too, Zee, but not today …”

They are quiet for a few minutes.

Nom isn’t sure whether Zithembe is still trying to think of ways to get out of this cave and keep exploring the dreamworld or whether he is trying to accept the truth in her words. As she waits for him to speak again, Nom sees a cloud of pale orange dust float into the cave.

The dust cloud stops just in front of them, blocking their view of the cave’s opening, and then drifts down low to the ground where they lie.

“Nom … Zithembe,” says the soft, faraway voice of a girl.

Zithembe twists his head to look at the floating dust and then back at Nom.

“Did that dust thing just speak?” Nom asks, saying out loud what both of them are thinking.

“I have a deal for you,” whispers the dust. “Help me rescue my friend fromthe Army of Shadows and I will help you find Itumeleng.”

Itumeleng. Zee’s mother.

“Who – or what – are you? Why should we believe you?” Zithembe asks.

There’s a trace of anger dripping into his voice. He wants to save his mother, but how can he trust a floating cloud of dust? Any of the magical things in the dreamworld could trick him into trapping himself or Nom here.

Book details


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Flame of Truth: third book in the Afrocentric fantasy adventure series, Shadow Chasers, “scary riveting fun!”

Only the Shadow Chasers, with their magical knives, can save the world from the evil that lives in the dreamworld.

“Scary riveting fun! Escape in this magical and modern South African fantasy.” – Nonikiwe Mashologu, childhood literacy specialist

“I love the book because it’s scary and cool. Nom is a very brave girl.” – Gugulethu Machin, tweeny reader

Flame of Truth is the third in the Shadow Chasers series, an Afrocentric fantasy adventure for pre-teens (9 to 12 year olds.)

Bontle Senne is a book blogger and literacy advocate. She is a former managing director at the Puku Children’s Literature Foundation, a trustee of READ Educational Trust and a part owner of feminist trade publishing house Modjaji Books.
 

Book details


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“We want African stories to be truly accessible to all South African children” – a Q&A with the masterminds behind Book Dash

Carla Lever recently conducted a Q&A with Book Dash co-founder Arthur Attwell and programme director Julia Norrish for Nal’ibali’s weekly column, as published in the Daily Dispatch and Herald. The three discussed fulfilling gaps in the indigenous language storytelling market, the accessibility of African stories, and how you – yes, you! – can get involved with creating a storytelling nation:

You aim for every SA child to own 100 books by the age of five. That sounds overwhelmingly optimistic, but in just three years you’ve already printed over 180 000 books with a price point of R10/copy. What’s your superpower?

Julia: Our superpower is peoplepower! We ask professional writers, illustrators, designers and editors to volunteer their time to create new, high-quality, African children’s books. We waste no time, and we pay no wages. The only cost is printing, and we do that cheaply, too, by working with great printing companies.

Julia Norrish, programme director: Book Dash

 

You make a point of making your books available in isiZulu, isiXhosa and Sepedi, which means you’re fulfilling a vital gap in the indigenous language storytelling market. What’s the response been like?

Julia: The response has been incredible: we’re thrilled when people request languages other than English, and equally chuffed that we can provide these! We must thank our translation partners for this, most notably Nal’ibali. Of the 183 963 books we’ve printed, 56% have been in English, so it still dominates, but that means there are 79 381 more African indigenous language books in kids’ hands than there were in 2013.

Arthur: Most children’s books published in South Africa are effectively cross-subsidised by textbook sales to government schools – that’s why there are so few. In 2013, of R312 million in local trade publishing revenue, only 0.5% came from books in indigenous languages. The value of mother tongue learning in the early stages of a child’s life has never been as well proven as it is today, and yet the books we’re publishing still aren’t reflecting that. We want African stories to be truly accessible to all South African children.

Your books are all available for free online and through your free Android app. Are they getting widely distributed that way?

Julia: Book Dash’s digital books are particularly powerful because anyone can freely use, translate or adapt the content. Our downloads are in the millions – from as far afield as Turkey, Afghanistan and South America – so we’re having great impact from digital. We’ll always print and distribute physical copies of our books directly to children, though. The authority and power that a print book has is irreplaceable, especially when trying to create avid readers.

How can writers, designers, translators and editors get involved?

Julia: People that are keen can join our mailing list via bookdash.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to hear when we announce upcoming events.

Your giveaway events sound like huge fun! Can you tell us about some of the most memorable exchanges with children and educators that you’ve had?

Arthur: My most memorable giveaway is still the first one, at Jireh Community Centre in Mitchells Plain. We gave each child three books that day. One boy, who must have been three years old, took his first book and walked off, so we had to call him back to get another, which made him very happy. And then he walked off again! When we called him back for his third book his eyes were as big as saucers. It’s really important for everyone to start thinking big numbers when it comes to giving books away.

What role do donors and sponsors play in your operation?

Julia: They’re invaluable and we’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most generous and insightful organisations out there. Our first ever print run was made possible by crowdfunding and we’re still so grateful when people choose to donate. People can also support by purchasing copies of our books from various retailers or directly from us at www.bookdash.org.

Reading and telling stories with your children is a powerful gift to them. It builds knowledge, language, imagination and school success! For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign or to enter its national multilingual storytelling competition, ‘Story Bosso’, running this September, visit www.nalibali.org.


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Nal’ibali launched their third annual Story Bosso contest with Gcina Mhlophe and Marc Lottering

In commemoration of National Literacy Month, Nal’ibali – the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign – is encouraging a wave of storytelling nationwide with their third annual multilingual Story Bosso contest. The contest, which places an emphasis on folktales, was launched on August 31st at the Soweto Theatre and featured a programme which skriks for niks:

Storyteller par excellence, Bongani Madondo, entertained the two groups of school children who attended the launch. Fingers were clicked, hands were clapped, and feet were stamped as the children repeated the catchy phrases uttered (with gusto!) by Bongani.

Gcina Mhlophe, one of the country’s most beloved storytellers, kept the audience enthralled with her passionate, dramatic, and humorous performance of her favourite folktales:

Storytelling goddess Gcina Mhlophe doing what she does best
© Daniel Born

 

Did you know? By tapping your fingers on your wrist you can recreate the sound of raindrops falling. Ngiyabonga for the fun audience interaction, Gcina!
© Daniel Born

 

The nation’s future storytellers paying rapt attention to Gogo Gcina…
© Daniel Born

 

:D
© Daniel Born

 

The magnificent Ms Mhlophe
© Daniel Born

 
To help children and adults remember these special stories, Nal’ibali has created a set of storytelling playing cards featuring common folktale characters, settings and objects.

And who better to demonstrate the creative use of one of these cards than one of South Africa’s favourite comedians, Marc Lottering?

And oh-my-’fro, did he have a jol

A storytelling playing card depicting a shaker. (A magic one, at that. It’s magical properties? The ability to transport the lucky person who shakes it to Cape Town. That’s Marc Lottering for you…)
© Daniel Born

Marc’s other card featured two young children; this story ended on a twist! The twist being “…and then he realised it was all a dream.” Hehe ;)
© Daniel Born

Nee, kyk. That’s one riveted audience…
© Daniel Born

Ain’t nothing bothering Mr Lottering!
© Daniel Born

 
Gcina and Marc even teamed up for a lively rendition of a song consisting of only six words (“Praat / praat u taal met liefde!”) but sjoe, they managed to get the audience to join in:

Gcina and Marc demonstrating how you should praat the taal with liefde
© Daniel Born

 
 

Big shout out to photographer Daniel Born who managed to capture this singular day beautifully. From children enjoying the performances, to perusing the books available in their home languages, to admiring the storytelling cards, and – ultimately – having the opportunity to tell their own stories…


 
All South Africans are invited to submit their entries between 1 and 30 September as audio or video clips online on the campaign’s website (www.nalibali.org), mobisite (www.nalibali.mobi), Facebook page (NalibaliSA), to info@nalibali.org or via Nal’ibali’s WhatsApp line: 076 920 6413.


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