Makhanda’s Festival of little readers

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Reading is a journey, says Kwezilomso Melitafa, a Grade 6 learner at George Dickerson
Primary School. And it’s really fun once you find your own way.

Kwezilomso was one of the winners of a writing competition, titled “If I could be an animal,
what would I be?” announced at the annual Albany Reading Festival held at St Mary’s DCC
in the school holidays.

Kwezilomso wrote about cheetahs: “I love the cheetah because it is more like me – it is fast
and flexible.” She says her story is about the love that the mother cheetah gives her babies

The festival, in its second year, attracted over 250 learners. It is an initiative of Lebone
Centre, St Mary’s and the Catholic Church, which is the main funder.

Day one, facilitated by the Lebone Centre, was dedicated to pre-school kids from seven local
day care centres and Grade R classes from St Mary’s and George Dickerson. They were
treated to a bilingual stage performance of ‘The Gruffalo’ while Basil Mills of NELM gave
an engaging narration of the book ‘Mr. Hare meets Mr Mandela’ by Chris Van Wyk.

Local dance group Via Kasi Movement, told stories through dance, and many children
enjoyed listening to audiobooks in a session arranged by the Inkwenkwezi society from Rhodes
University.

Pre-school teacher Benecia Goliath of Little Stars and Hope ECD centre says the festival
makes learning more real for the children: “We don’t have costumes at our schools to
demonstrate the characters for the kids.”

Local librarian Chesley Daniels encouraged children to sign up for library membership on the
day.

Zodwa Libi brought 18 children from the Assumption Nutrition Centre in Joza to the festival.
“The kids enjoy the interaction with others and get encouraged by seeing others read. The
fact that each child goes home with a book is a bonus.”

To encourage reading and access to reading material at the centre, Libi says they cut out
books from Nali’bali newspaper supplements and the kids use shoe boxes to store these
‘books’.

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