In celebration of World Read Aloud Day on Wednesday, 5 March 2014, the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign is calling on everyone in South Africa to read aloud the same story on the same day to the children in their lives. Last year, the campaign encouraged adults to read aloud to more than 13 000 children, and this year, hopes to break this record in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of reading aloud to grow children’s literacy.
“Research shows that reading aloud is a really important part of building the language, knowledge and motivation all children require as they learn to read,” explains Dr. Carole Bloch, Director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa (PRAESA), which is driving the Nal’ibali campaign. “And with our focus this year on motivating parents and caregivers to read to the children in their lives a little bit every day, reading aloud is a great way to make stories a part of daily life.”
This year, Nal’ibali’s special read-aloud day story, How stories began, is a traditional isiZulu tale retold by South African children’s author Wendy Hartmann. The story will be free for download together with story activities to do before, during and after reading it aloud from the campaign’s website (www.nalibali.org), or can be accessed on the Nal’ibali mobisite (www.nalibali.mobi) for those without access to a computer. Members of the public are encouraged to sign-up and record how many children they read aloud to via both platforms.
The story will also appear in a special edition of Nal’ibali’s weekly reading-for-enjoyment supplement, which is delivered for free to more than 100 reading clubs and reading programmes each week; or can be found in select Times Media titles in English-isiXhosa, English-isiZulu, and English-Sesotho each week. Adds Bloch: “This year, we’re especially excited to offer the story in all 11 official languages on our website and mobisite to ensure even more people are able to share and enjoy the story in a language that is meaningful to them.”
On the ground, Nal’ibali will be hosting a number of read-aloud events in schools, libraries, reading clubs and early childhood development centers through its network of Cluster Mentors, Story Sparkers and programme partners in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Limpopo and Gauteng provinces.
Partners pledge support
Building on the success of last year’s drive, a number of partners have already signed on to help put the story in the hands of even more caregivers to help set a new read-aloud record. The Family Literacy Project in rural KwaZulu-Natal, Kidz2Kidz, Rotary District 9350, LIASA, The Principals Academy, National Professional Teacher’s Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA) as well as Soul City have all pledged to share the story with teachers and volunteers working with children in their networks.
Nal’ibali media partners Sowetan LIVE and Jet Club will be promoting the importance of reading aloud to one’s children as well as providing access to the story. Kagiso Media’s Howzit MSN portal will be contributing tips and general awareness. And, through its partnership with SABC Education, Afrikaans, English, Venda, Tswana, Swati and Tsonga versions of the story will be read aloud on X-K FM, SAfm, Phalaphala FM, Motsweding FM, Ligwalagwala FM and Munghana Lonene FM respectively in their Nal’ibali story time slots.
Local partner FunDza has also pledged to offer the story in all 11 languages to its followers on its Mxit app, whilst global NGO WorldReader Mobile will be sharing it with its audiences in the developing world who primarily have access to only low-end phones. And, for those who sign-up to read aloud the story, 10 read-aloud book hampers are up for grabs courtesy Human & Rousseau and Tafelberg, imprints of NB Publishers.
Finally, to further share the magic of the story and the joy of being read aloud, a special reading of the story by popular local singer Zolani Mahola of Freshlyground will be available on the Nal’ibali website and social media platforms.
"Reading has given me such great pleasure all my life, opening up worlds I learned to dream of. All kids deserve this and the opportunity literacy provides to express themselves and to let their own dreams become a part of the world," concludes Mahola.
To sign-up or pledge to print out Story Cards for schools, crèches, your staff or others in your area, click here.