Lots of little reasons to read

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A young girl colouring in the World Read Aloud Day badge after being read to by a multilingual storyteller from the Lebone Centre. Photo: Paula Israel

The Wild Hikers Crew ‘talked the walk’ on World Read Aloud Day 2021, writes Cathy Gush

Around the country, a few million children were read aloud to on Wednesday 3 February, in celebration of International World Read Aloud Day. Nal’ibali – the main drivers of this campaign in South Africa – were aiming for 3 million children this year.

The Lebone Centre reached out to 10 early childhood development (ECD) centres in Makhanda, as well as the Ikhaya Losizo safe house, reaching about 160 young children with the story Fly, everyone fly, written specially for the occasion by Sihle Nontshokweni. Featuring the well-known Nal’ibali charaters, the story contains a fun element of making paper aeroplanes and flying them to imaginary places. After hearing the story, children had fun making paper planes, as well as the World Read Aloud Day badges that were included in the Nal’ibali supplements. 

Melumzi Matiwane, initiator and leader of the Makhanda Wild Hikers Crew, rallied some of their members to be readers yesterday for the ECD outreach initiative. Between himself, Malwande Bebeza, Mziyanda Bulani and Sabelo Bill, they read to a total of 58 children at four different centres. These numbers would have been a lot higher had it not been for the fact that schools are only formally re-opening on 15 February and many pre-schoolers are not yet back at their Centres. Matiwane says the experience was “super awesome, great energy from the kids”. 

The team of Multi-Lingual Storytellers from the Lebone Centre also did their bit for World Read Aloud Day, and read to children informally in small groups in their communities. Elsewhere, the head of Kingswood Junior School, James Hough, took the opportunity to go and read aloud to their young learners in the KC Pre-Primary School. 

But it’s about much more than just reading stories aloud to children on a specific day, as something that is commemorated once a year. There are many benefits in reading aloud to children, and the campaign aims to inspire adults to continue reading or telling stories to the children in their lives all year round. 

Nal’ibali highlights five good reasons to read aloud:

  • It helps to develop the bond between an adult and a child;
  • Children see reading as a satisfying activity;
  • It helps to motivate children to read;
  • It shows young children how to read and how books work;
  • Children can enjoy stories that they cannot read on their own yet.
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