Celebrating a year of driving literacy change in their community, partners in the national network of Nal’ibali reading clubs gathered in six provinces this December to recognise a year of reading and sharing stories with children.
“When children read for enjoyment, not only is their emotional wellbeing enhanced, but their chances of success at school are greatly improved, irrespective of their social or economic backgrounds,” explained Bongani Godide, the Nal’ibali Literacy Mentor who oversees Nal’ibali’s network of reading clubs in Gauteng.
Says Malusi Puwe, the Nal’ibali Literacy Mentor who oversees Nal’ibali’s network of reading clubs in the Eastern Cape: “Today we are taking a moment to acknowledge the committed team of adults who have made this year of literacy learning possible for our young members, as well as the children themselves who have not only taken their first steps towards becoming lifelong readers, but are now reading role models for others.”
Nal’ibali reading clubs offer children and their caregivers a relaxed and safe space where they can read, tell stories, talk about what they are reading and get tips on how to read and share stories at home. While an opportunity to meet and bond with others in the area, the clubs also support children on their journeys of becoming strong and powerful readers by sharing stories and literacy materials in both English and home languages.
“We started from humble beginnings with just one club, but with more children joining each week the need to accommodate them in appropriate spaces became a pressing concern that required the support of partners to successfully address,” said Kamohelo Ramaipato, Literacy Mentor from the Western Cape.
Now, having collaborated with partners such as Soweto Theatre, Sikhula Sonke, the ASHA Pre-School Association, Murray Park Library, Rotary, The Bookery, the Community Literacy and Numeracy Group, the Department of Basic Education, local libraries, Early Childhood Development Centres, schools and more, who are running their own clubs with Nal’ibali’s support, the partners have grown our base to over 800 reading clubs, reaching as many as 25 751 children each week nationally.
It is only with the continued support of reading club leaders, volunteers, parents, caregivers and partner organisation staff that the children in the community are really able to benefit. And, the benefit of the clubs is evident not only in their popularity, but in the children’s positive shift towards reading and writing, their behaviour and performance at school, and now insatiable love for stories.