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Archive for the ‘Childrens Literature’ Category

READ Educational Trust celebrates Mandela and his pursuit of literacy

On behalf of READ Educational Trust

As we look back on the month of July, in South Africa a month synonymous with the late Nelson Mandela, who was born on 18 July 1918, we reflect on this particular year, which marks his 100th birthday.

‘Madiba Month’ generated a phenomenal amount of goodwill, with individuals and businesses around the country paying it forward, donating 67 minutes of their time to creating a better South Africa.

A beautiful quotation by this great man is truly at the heart of READ Educational Trust’s quest of literacy for all South Africans: “A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.”

In that same spirit, READ celebrated Madiba Week by visiting Lawley Primary School in Lenasia, Gauteng. Over 50 foundation phase learners were extremely excited to experience our Pop-Up Library. When Mrs Book, a.k.a. Lindiwe Mthembu lit up the room with her animated story-telling skills, the children’s mouths dropped open with delight!

Mrs Book, a.k.a. Lindiwe Mthembu lit up the room at Lawley Primary School in Lenasia, with her animated story-telling skills

The little ones loved browsing through the book selection in our Pop-Up Library and couldn’t believe their eyes when they received a donation of books from READ, for their own school library! The Father of our Nation was surely smiling down at South Africans honouring his legacy!

For more information about the READ Educational Trust visit

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“Here they have a chance to tell people their story” – a Q&A with two hosts of Red Cross Children’s Hospital’s child reporter-driven radio station, RX Radio

Nal’ibali Column 17: term 3

By Carla Lever

At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital, children are empowered to tell their own stories through RX Radio: a child reporter-driven radio station. Amirah and Hakeem talk to us about why no-one’s too young to author their own story.

Amirah (16) presents her own show and helps train new reporters.


Hakeem (17) is both a reporter and an apprentice.

Thanks for doing this interview. What’s it like to be asked the questions instead of asking them?

Hakeem: It’s quite weird as all my questions are prepared way before the interview. Now that I’m being interviewed, I understand now the pressure the interviewees must be feeling on my shows!

What does your job at RX radio involve? Is it fun?

Amirah: It’s so much fun working here at RX Radio. I present and script my show but I also help with training the new reporters.
Hakeem: It’s definitely super fun. As a reporter, I come up with content for my shows and collect Vox Pops because it’s nice to know how other people feel about things. I’m also an apprentice, which means editing different shows, training new recruits and covering different events.

Why do you think telling stories and sharing experiences is helpful for kids when they’re at Red Cross?

Amirah: It could help them become more confident and comfortable in telling their stories and come to grips with their health condition. Other kids with the same condition might also understand more.
Hakeem: Here they have a chance to tell people their story – even if it’s traumatizing or painful – and get it off their chest. They are constantly surrounded by children with different, and sometimes similar, illnesses and feel almost immediately at home and at ease at RX Radio.

How many patients and children work at RX?

Amirah: RX Radio has trained 67 child reporters.

Do you have to be a loud, outgoing person to be on radio?

Amirah: No, you don’t. In the beginning I was very quiet, but after a few weeks, months I came out of my shell and now I’m confident.
Hakeem: Not everyone is able to be like that and we don’t want anyone to be left out. So we’d usually allow all the children to take part in many different roles, such as reading the news or sports or participating in Vox Pops.

Often, doctors don’t see people unless they are sick. Why do you think it’s important and exciting for kids to be able to interview doctors who are helping them?

Hakeem: This way they feel more comfortable with their health care workers and build up a good relationship with them. In most interviews, they’ll disclose personal experiences which allows the child to think of as a friend.

Do the kids at RX get to choose what kinds of stories and features they make?

Amirah: Yes, they do. You get to choose what show and features you want.
Hakeem: Most definitely. The staff at RX Radio aim to be as little involved as possible. I’ll support, but the material comes mainly from the children themselves.

What are the most important skills kids would need to work at RX?

Amirah: Well they should be able to be social and confident enough to talk to someone face to face and be able to share their stories.
Hakeem: Also using a field recorder, which is important for someone on radio.

Amirah, I love your Hot Playlist – I listened a little while I was at work. And Hakeem, I can’t wait to hear some top tips on the outdoors from your show. What does it feel like to have a whole hour to tell people across the world stories about things you’re passionate about?

Amirah: It’s always nice to have time to share your favourite things, even if you’re not confident enough to share it with people closer to you. I’ve also met and interviewed so many new people during that one hour. And have listened to lots of amazing stories from Nal’ibali.

I know there are libraries and book clubs available at Red Cross. Can you tell me a little about the “Books and Breakfast” with Yusrah?

Amirah: In Yusrah’s show she talks about books she has read, interviews authors and talks about new books that have come out.
Hakeem: Yusrah’s sister Naseerah features in her show as well. She tells riddles and sometimes discusses books too.

There are people from so many different backgrounds at Red Cross. Do you use different languages at RX, or is it all in English?

Amirah: We mainly use English.
Hakeem: … but children are allowed to do things in their own language.

What advice would you give to kids who feel they have a story to tell the world?

Amirah: Well, they could always contact us and we will help them tell their stories.
Hakeem: Speak to your parents and tell them how you feel and I’m sure they will make sure you have a chance to tell your story. Also RX Radio will always be willing to hear your story and play it on air.

How can people tune in to listen?

Amirah: Children in the hospital can just switch to RX Radio but for outside listeners, they can stream us on
Hakeem: They can also search RX Radio on Twitter or Facebook. We even have an app in the Play Store for download!

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:

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2018 READ Word Warrior Competition: encouraging creativity, raising literary warriors

Written on behalf of READ Educational Trust


A wise man once quipped: Creativity is contagious. Pass it on: Albert Einstein certainly knew what he was speaking about, and when it comes to encouraging creativity and imagination in our youth, just think of the untold treasure waiting to be discovered!

This is one of many reasons why READ Educational Trust is particularly encouraged to talk about the annual READ Word Warrior Competition: a platform used to promote literacy, reading and the art of creative writing among young South Africans.

Open to learners from the ages of nine through sixteen, our 2018 READ Word Warrior Competition requires entrants to write a fiction story incorporating a colourful character, Detective WW Inkomba. (‘Inkomba’ means ‘clue’ in Zulu and Xhosa). Our Word Warriors are required to produce a Fun, Fact-Finding (FFF) mission that draws readers in, and captivates them right up to the very last word!

The entry form is filled with tips and questions aimed at getting those creative juices flowing and bringing out the best in our budding Agatha Christies! All good detectives must be wondering what’s in it for them? Not only will their work be showcased on the READ website; the winner will receive a R1000 cash prize, and their school will receive R5000’s worth of books!

Last year’s Word Warrior Competition drew a host of interesting entries and READ is pleased to announce that the READ Word Warrior of 2017 is Lolo Legoabe from Boskop Primary School! The 2017 Word Warriors had to describe their idea of ‘My Treasure’, and Lolo gave us wonderful insight into her family of five … always there for each other, no matter what they face in life!

2017 Word Warrior winner – Lolo Legoabe

READ encourages learners, educators and parents alike to inspire participation in this competition.

“This is one of many vehicles we use, to harness that very weapon our patron the late Nelson Mandela was passionate about: education,” Lizelle Langford, PR and Fundraising Manager at READ Educational Trust, explains.

“Together we can sharpen the literary skills of South Africa’s future leaders. A noble cause and one that is worthy of supporting every step of the way!”

For more information about the 2018 READ Word Warrior Competition, contact READ Educational Trust on 0872377781, or visit

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“Books really can change your life” – a Q&A with Jean Williams, executive director of book donation NGO, Biblionef

Published in the Sunday World (03/06/2018), Daily Dispatch (04/-6/2018), Herald (07/06/2018)

By Carla Lever

Jean Williams has run Biblionef for many years and is now retiring. She is responsible for donating many storybooks to kids over the years and in all South African languages.


You are the only national organisation that make books available to children in all eleven of our national languages. That’s no mean feat! How do you manage to source quality, exciting content across such a wide range of languages?

We actually get our books from a variety of sources, including purchasing or accepting donations. Early in 1999, when we discovered how scarce storybooks in all African languages were, the Founder of Biblionef, Max Vegelin Van Claerbergen, suggested we commission publishers to print some of the most popular titles we had in South Africa into indigenous languages. Thanks to generous funding, we’ve been able to print 93 titles in indigenous languages! We really believe in making high quality books with lots of colourful illustrations and we’re proud of the fact that the majority of our books are locally written, illustrated and produced – in fact, our latest book was Kgalagadi Tales in all 11 languages, funded by the Lotto.

Why do you believe so passionately that access to books is the key to a child’s future?

Books really can change your life. They open your mind and that changes your attitude towards life and the world around you. Once you taste the joy books bring you, you’ll become a life-long reader and readers are normally good citizens who can act wisely.

What are some of the impacts and success stories that have made you the proudest over your years of operation?

We get a lot of amazing responses from people at schools, some of whom have never had books donated before. A principal heard about how we have more than 300 isiXhosa books and he actually drove here after school just to look at and touch them. He had tears in his eyes because he’d never seen so many books that weren’t textbooks in his mother tongue language. What a moment!

Studies have shown that boys often have significantly lower reading skills than girls at school. How can we change that, together?

We need to offer them books that cover topics that they are interested in! Boys – like girls – have a wide range of interests, but let’s make sure we have great stories about football, boxing, local heroes and so on. At Biblionef, we have six books that cover a soccer story, we have books about Nelson Mandela growing up as a herd boy as well as a children’s version of Long Walk to Freedom.

Can any public organisation apply to receive books from Biblionef?

Any children’s organisation that has a need for books in mother tongue but not the means to get them can apply. Write us a request letter! Tell us why you don’t have funds and tell us how you plan to use and care for the books when they arrive.

You have said that no area is too remote for you to get books into: that sounds like a challenge! How do you make sure that books are delivered directly into the hands of school children, no matter how far away they are?

It’s a simple plan. We pack our books in cardboard boxes with a weight of 30 kilograms or less and they’re all sent via the postal system. Each organisation is informed they must collect their books at their local post office. Believe it or not, we’ve had a 98% success rate using this system.

It’s one thing donating books, but quite another making sure that they are able to be stored and looked after. Biblionef has some ingenious storage and maintenance solutions – tell us a little more about them.

Experience has taught us that most places don’t have adequate storage space on their premises for their new book donations. Obviously, books last much longer if good quality storage space is available, so we started suggesting alternative shelving options. One of our favourite is providing steel trunks where books can be packed neatly away – they are inexpensive, transportable, sturdy, lockable and accessible. Trunks can be swapped between schools to offer a larger selection of books to more children. We also have mobile units on wheels and suggest things like suitcases, cloth bags and even bread crates!

Buying books is expensive and you note that over 85% of South Africans don’t have access to a public library. I can’t imagine not being able to pick up a book when I felt like it. What can regular people do to promote book equity in South Africa?

If you want to promote book equity in SA, you can support one of the many NPOs helping to build a culture of reading amongst children. You can visit second hand bookshops and buy books for a crèche or school or after care centre. Join a book club and share your resources with other people! Or my favourite: give children books as birthday presents and put some money inside it, so when they read it they get a nice surprise inside.

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.

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Nal’ibali FUNda Leader to host Youth Day round table panel discussion at Centre for the Book (14 June)

In the spirit of South African Youth Month, the Nal’ibali national reading-for-enjoyment campaign is hosting a Youth Day round table panel discussion at Centre for the Book on Thursday, 14 June. The panel will include activists who are passionate about youth, language and advocacy work. The story of 16 June 1976 encompasses two of Nal’ibali’s values – activism and the belief that every child has the right to be educated in a language they understand.

“A love of storytelling and sharing stories is inherited by us as South Africans. To cultivate a culture of reading in South Africa, we need more young people to become reading role models. I’m extremely passionate about literacy and would like to activate a love for books in children. Especially children from townships,” explains Liziwe Ndalana, a literacy activist and one of the panelists.

The improvement of literacy rates is a universal concern. As a nation we can draw inspiration from other countries that have called on activists to resolve issues around literacy. The Cuban Literacy Campaign, through the agency of citizens, was able to drastically reduce the country’s illiteracy rates. Closer to home, Tanzania also ran a successful adult literacy campaign in the 1970s that was championed by local activists. Ultimately, we see that with citizen agency, change is possible.

“Considering how South Africa became a democratic nation, and the struggles people overcame in hope of a better future for generations to come, we cannot deny the power activism holds in changing the social landscape in South Africa,” says Thembakuye Madlala, Nal’ibali Digital Strategist. “A sentiment shared by many is that our education system is in crisis.

“One of the ways in which the country can overcome this is by instilling a sense of activism and responsibility in people of all ages in our communities. The Nal’ibali FUNda Leader network aspires to do this. FUNda Leaders are everyday South Africans who have raised their hands to help ensure that all South Africa’s children are given a better chance to succeed through the power of stories and reading, in the languages they understand best.

“FUNda Leaders are generally passionate adults who care about and respect children and want to help them learn and become literate through fun and relaxed interaction with stories. They are activists by nature and eager to share their free time by storytelling and reading on a volunteer basis, in the quest to get South Africa reading. By the end of 2017 we had 5752 registered FUNda Leaders spread across the country.

“There are many ways to be a FUNda Leader. These will be explored during the Youth Day round table discussion and the impact our FUNda Leaders have had in their respective communities will be shared.”

Nal’ibali FUNda Leaders and literacy activists are encouraged to take part in this discourse – it’s an opportunity for likeminded individuals to brainstorm solutions to the literacy issues that affect all South Africans. The FUNda Leader panel and audience will together also discuss reclaiming African languages in education, and the importance of South African young people in promoting a culture of reading for enjoyment.

Nal’ibali believes in the relevance of having round table discussions with young people, to explore possible ways they can become literacy role models and help to create a nation brimming with children who can read and, more importantly, who read for enjoyment.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign or how to become a FUNda Leader, visit and or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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“There’s a social justice agenda that gets and keeps me passionate about this work” – a Q&A with Lara Krause, language activist and PhD researcher into mother tongue education

Published in the Sunday World: 27 May 2018; Daily Dispatch: 28 May 2018; Herald: 31 May 2018)

By Carla Lever

Lara Krause, language activist and PhD researcher into mother tongue education. Photo supplied.

You’ve specialised in language and education in South Africa for many years now. What gets you so passionate about these topics?

It’s always struck me that something as universal as language, which was never an obstacle in my own education, can make life so difficult for millions of children at school. So there’s a social justice agenda that gets and keeps me passionate about this work. I’m also excited by the idea of debating what language really is – what counts as a ‘proper’ language and what gets dismissed as unacceptable or informal.

There is a big and important movement fighting for access to mother tongue education, but your research suggests it’s a complicated issue. Why is that?

Well, one issue is that South Africa is a country where most children grow up speaking more than one neat language category – they mix isiZulu, English, isiXhosa and maybe Afrikaans as a normal part of everyday life. They communicate just as efficiently as everyone else – perhaps more efficiently! – but what is their mother tongue? It shows the shortcomings of our thinking.

Can you give us some practical examples where school language policy doesn’t always help children?

Well, the numbers used in everyday isiXhosa are mostly adapted from English – the formal isiXhosa words for numbers are almost never used. When children learn maths in ‘mother tongue’, though, they are often taught standard isiXhosa words for numbers – words that are actually foreign to them! This sometimes has children being marked down in tests if, for example, they can’t write a number like 153 out in standard isiXhosa words. These children can often count and work with numbers perfectly well – it’s just that the words they know are not acknowledged because they don’t fit into one language category. That’s not a failure of thinking, it’s a failure of policy.

In your experience, what creative things are teachers doing in practice to help students with this?

Teachers work a lot with visual aids, I find. Even though resources are often hard to come by, they print posters, bring pictures or postcards to continuously illustrate what is being spoken about. I’ve also seen teachers physically act out vocabulary that they are teaching and integrating little jokes to make learners remember things better. I’ve been really impressed by the creativity teachers bring under very difficult circumstances!

Obviously it’s important that we turn around our literacy rates in South Africa. Do you think a more flexible approach to language use might help with this?

Yes! If I could decide, I would relax language restrictions when it comes to writing in content subjects in primary school. Children should be free to use whichever language resources they have to show their knowledge. We should also stop worrying so much about teachers mixing languages in the classroom – research suggests it’s one of the most efficient ways of helping students understand. We should legitimise and support any practices which help our children learn and develop a love of using language to express themselves. As they are exposed to standard ways of saying and writing things in the books they read, children absorb the formal rules if they’re allowed to grow into them.

You’ve done some work with picture stories to see how children naturally write. Can you tell us about why you did this and what you discovered?

I wanted to see how children choose to write if they are allowed to use any mix of languages they like. It looks as if children write more courageously and freely when not restricted to ‘one language’. This data is my current project so the insights are not very detailed yet.

How can parents and communities best support children to become curious, creative readers and thinkers? Are there any tips you’d give on supporting how children close to us talk and write?

I think it would be great to start early to expose children to different types of texts. Reading books together with children and talking about them is incredibly valuable and conducive to any sort of learning activity. However, if books are not always at hand, a whatsapp message with lots of emojis that mom just got from dad can be turned into a resource for learning about reading, writing and creativity as well, just like the writings on the wall of the spaza shop and the lyrics of children’s favorite songs.

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.

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“Reading is a powerful force in society and connects us to the thoughts and ideas of people across space and time” – a Q&A with Theresa Giorza, literacies activist and PhD researcher

Published in the Sunday World: 20 May 2018; Daily Dispatch 21 May 2018; Herald 24 May 2018

By Carla Lever

Children decide in pairs which picture we are are going to discuss to follow our question: “Can a street be a classroom?” Here, two girls vote for a picture showing a collection of cut-out mermaids and fairies. Photographer: Daniel Born

Can you tell us a little about your research?

I’m really interested in the ways that children create stories but also connect with everyday objects, situations and spaces. My research has been about finding out how children make meaning by engaging with their surroundings. I’ve recently experimented with the question of whether a street can be a classroom and uncovered a whole lot of new ways of thinking about public spaces and children’s learning.

Why is children’s literacy such a passion for you?

Actually I like to talk about ‘literacies’ rather than ‘literacy’ because I see children expressing themselves through so many different means, many of them not needing words at all. Drawing is probably the most well supported story-making children’s language that is acknowledged by adults, but there are so many more!

Your work must have taken you to some interesting places and situations! Can you tell us some of the most memorable moments with children and storytelling?

The most remarkable things have happened when I have been able to return to a group of children I have worked with. The way that the slow, thoughtful processing of ideas works over time and re-emerges in different expressions is always surprising. Children develop their own favorite themes that can be seen as the beginning of their ‘literacy’ practice – even if there are no words involved!

What are the biggest everyday things all of us can do to make a difference with literacy acquisition and a love for books in our families and communities?

The two most important things are so simple: to have really good conversations and to be interested in the world! The key to having good conversations is to be interested in how people, including the very smallest people, see things and in what they think about the world.

What are some of the most creative South African teaching solutions you’ve encountered in response to lack of resources or challenging conditions?

The use of an ‘enquiry-based’ approach to learning is really creative. It’s a form of learning where children are encouraged to ask questions and explore ideas themselves as a way into a topic, rather than just being told facts. Philosophy with Children, for example, is an enquiry-based approach that uses picture books to explore ideas in a space in which the ideas and questions of children lead the session instead of the teacher.

Why is reading together with children – and by oneself around children – so important?

Reading is a powerful force in society and connects us to the thoughts and ideas of people across space and time! Reading is at the centre of the way we learn and communicate, so it’s important that we invite children in as new readers as early as possible and establish reading as an enjoyable and inclusive activity.

What positive changes do you think we can realistically expect to see in the next five years in South African literacies or education?

One positive change I anticipate is for parents and families to really come on board in promoting children’s literacies. We need to educate parents about the importance of all the ‘literacies’ their children can explore before being introduced to school instruction – creative expression in storytelling, music, drawing and pattern making. Even more positive changes will come when ‘formal’ literacy learning embraces the abilities that children have for creating meaning, inventing narratives and engaging with the world together.

From Sunday April 15, Nal’ibali will be publishing its supplements in two new languages. An English-Setswana edition will be published in the Sunday World in the North West, and an English-Xitsonga edition will be donated to reading clubs in Limpopo. Clubs in both provinces will collect their copies from select post offices. The post offices (10 in each province) will also have 50 additional editions each to give away to member of the public.

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#CatchMeReading: Nal’ibali to launch a nationwide book exchange on 26 May

Issued by Petunia Thulo on behalf of Nal’ibali


‘Books are a uniquely portable magic’ – Stephen King

There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. Which is why the NGO The Nal’ibali Trust, is expanding on its reading-for-enjoyment campaign, to initiate a national book exchange project on the 26th of May. Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali’s Managing Director says, “Literacy Mentors across the country will be hosting public book exchange events, where everyone is encouraged to bring and swap a book, enjoy storytelling and read-aloud sessions, and find out more about how they can read and share stories effectively with their children.”

How it works

  • The book exchange welcomes books of any variety; printed or handmade books for adults or children can be swapped.
  • Those bringing books to exchange will receive a special sticker which can be placed on the inside cover.
  • The sticker provides an opportunity for the previous owner to inscribe their name and location before passing it on.

Illiteracy is the academic handbrake
A recent study by PIRLS states that 78% of Grade 4’s in South Africa are illiterate. All the more worrying when the ability to read in Grade 4 is regarded as crucial. From Grades 1 to 3 you learn to read, but from Grades 4 to 12 you read to learn.

“If a learner is unable to read properly, they will never get a firm grasp on the first rung of the academic ladder and will fall further and further behind,” says Stellenbosch University education expert, Nic Spaull.

Although parents have high aspirations for their children, many are not aware that reading is a powerful way to help them reach their potential. Research shows that only 35% of adults read regularly to their children and very few are readers themselves. But teachers, parents and caregivers can play a significant role in children’s literacy development. The Nal’ibali book exchange is an easy and fun way for caregivers and adults to start to model positive reading behaviors and become reading role models for their children.

Reading is learning to fly
“Academics aside,” says Jacobsohn, “Children who learn to read fluently take a flight into a whole new world, fueled by imagination and buoyed by curiosity.”

But they can’t do it alone. The book exchange intends to encourage adults and children to engage actively in fun literacy behaviors.

“We recognise and respect the power and potential of communities in literacy development and are working to build a nation of people who are interested and passionate about storytelling, reading and writing. We want to ensure that every child has at least one reading role model who uses reading and writing in meaningful ways with them, who encourages them to read, and who supports them through the provision of books and other literacy materials.”

You need literary materials to learn to read
Access to literacy materials is one of the biggest barriers faced by South Africans to get reading, the book exchange is just one of the ways that Nal’ibali is supporting the circulation of books and stories in mother tongue languages.

Other Nal’ibali projects to promote reading
Continues Jacobsohn, “Nal’ibali also produces bilingual newspaper supplements every two weeks, during term time. The print rich material includes stories, literacy activities, reading and reading club tips and support, to inspire and guide parents, caregivers, teachers, librarians and reading clubs, to make reading and storytelling meaningful, enjoyable, and accessible.

“There’s also weekly broadcasts of audio stories in all 11 SA languages and a network of over 1 000 reading clubs in six provinces. First prize is to bring reading-for-enjoyment into homes, schools and communities.”

Ambassadors for reading
Supporting the drive, South African public figures will not only be bringing along their own books to swap at exchanges in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, and Limpopo, but will be signing up to Nal’ibali’s volunteer network – FUNda Leader – too.

But it’s not just for celebs, FUNda Leader is open to anyone who would like to champion literacy in their communities. Those who sign up will receive specialised training to build and nurture literacy amongst children. Members of the public interested in becoming a FUNda Leader can sign up at the exchange or online at Nal’ibali’s website,

South Africans are also encouraged to hold and host their own book exchanges. The specially designed posters and stickers are available for download from the website.

“With opportunities to browse through different books, sit down and read or page through story books with children or simply get chatting with other community members about the books you have read, or will be reading, the book exchange promises to be a fun activity for all ages. We’re excited to share tips and ideas with all adults and anyone who wants to nurture a love of reading with children. And, with May being ‘Get Caught Reading Month’, there really is every reason to get down to your local book exchange!”

After all, a book is a dream you can hold in your hand, and the future belongs to those who believe in the possibilities of dreams.

For more information about Nal’ibali or its nationwide book-exchange drive, visit the Nal’ibali website ( and or find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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READ Educational Trust: celebrating the freedom to learn, this Africa Day!

Written on behalf of READ Educational Trust

On 25 May 2018 we celebrate Africa Day; a day marking the independence of 28 African countries from European colonisers. While South Africa only became part of the original organisation in 1994, our country became the founding member of the African Union, officially launched in 2002.

For READ Educational Trust, a non-profit organisation promoting literacy amongst the poorest of the poor for nearly 40 years, this day is about far more than liberation. It’s about the freedom to learn; the freedom to explore and be educated, and at the very core, it’s about access to reading and literacy.

READ’S reason for being has always been to bring change to the lives of disadvantaged children in South Africa through education. Sadly, after 38 years since the organisation’s inception, we still see the majority of young learners being negatively impacted by a range of social and economic inequalities. These children in predominantly rural areas face a childhood of adversity.

There is inadequate access to healthcare, education, social services and quality nutrition. This has undermined the development of these learners, resulting in significant deficits that limit educational progress.

This limited progress was highlighted in the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) report, released in December 2017. A staggering 80% of South African Grade 4 learners cannot read with comprehension. South Africa’s average score is 261 points below countries like The Russian Federation, Singapore and Ireland. This difference represents six school years – meaning that our Grade 8 learners, entering secondary education, are reading at the same level as Grade 2 learners in these countries. Our top achievers are at the same mean level score as the lowest 25% performing countries. Over the past five years, our learners (including the top achievers) have not progressed at all. Rural learners are three years below their urban counterparts.

READ has successfully addressed some of these issues over the years, thanks to the implementation of Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programmes that assist caregivers, educators and principals of ECD Centres in overcoming our country’s challenges. READ also provides practical training, hands-on support and valuable resources which have been shown to be extremely effective.

The need, however, is both dire and vast. A collective effort can change the face of South Africa. The only way to succeed is for governments, non-profit organisations, big business and private individuals to stand together and do all they can to combat illiteracy by actively promoting and funding reading and educational incentives.

Visit to find out more and join the conversations on:


Twitter:, Instagram:

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Call for Joburg creatives to make free children’s books

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