World Read Aloud Day to reach 2 million kids

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In 2019 World Read Aloud Day saw hundreds of children reading with author and activist, Lebohang Masango, who gave a multilingual reading in Johannesburg. PHOTO: DANIEL BORN for NAL'IBALI

National reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali, aims to reach over two million children on this year’s World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) on 5 February 2020. The campaign has gone from strength to strength, having started in 2013 when they reached 13 000 children, while last year’s story was read to 1 559 730 children in a single day.

Nal’ibali is built on the simple logic that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa. Literacy skills are a strong predictor of future academic success in all subjects.

Children who regularly read and hear engaging stories in languages they understand, are well-equipped and motivated to learn to read and write.

Annually, Nal’ibali celebrates WRAD to draw attention to the importance of reading aloud to children in their mother tongue. This year’s story, A Day to Remember, was written by well-known local author and early literacy expert, Lorato Trok. Trok wrote the story in Setswana, her mother tongue, after which it was translated into English and all the other official languages.

“I find it interesting that when I’m commissioned to write a story, without question the default language of writing is English. However, for this story it only came naturally once I decided to write it in Setswana. It made me realise how we underestimate the power of our own language!” said Trok.

A special live reading event featuring this year’s ambassador and actress Manaka Ranaka, will take place at the Es’kia Mphahlele Community Library in Pretoria on Wednesday, 5 February 2020. Nal’ibali’s network of partners, Literacy Mentors and FUNda Leader volunteers are encouraging all South Africans to read the special story with their children.

They urge everyone to reach out to their networks and encourage others to be a part of South Africa’s literacy solution by pledging to read aloud at www.nalibali.org/wrad. “The story can be downloaded free of charge from our website in any official language, from Wednesday, 15 January,” says Ben Rycroft, Head of Communications at Nal’ibali.

“However, we’d like to encourage South Africans to register their participation and to share pictures of their reading sessions online through our Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MyWRAD2020,” said Rycroft.

Nomaqhawe Mtebele
nomaqhawe@mahareng.co.za