Children who read for pleasure are more likely to improve their academic performance than those who rarely read in their free time.
This was the core message delivered to residents of Khayelitsha when the Nali’bali campaign held a Reading Aloud walk on Thursday January 18.
While World Reading Aloud Day will only be marked on February 1, Nali’bali has already started raising awareness about the day.
The organisation said the day provides the opportunity to stress the mental and emotional benefits of reading aloud to children.
They said the event follows the release of a global study which reveals the true magnitude of SA’s literacy crisis.
It was an opportunity for all South African adults to take action as they grapple with the news that 78% of Grade 4 children in the country cannot read for meaning in any language.
Nal’ibali celebrates World Read Aloud Day by commissioning a brand-new story and translating it into all 11 official languages, before asking South Africans to join them in reading it aloud to the children in their lives.
The organisation argues that not only is reading aloud one of the most significant factors in helping children gain knowledge and skills, it also helps parents to bond with their children.
Literacy mentor at Nali’bali, Thando Mkoyi, said last year they read books to more than 70 000 children nationally during World Reading Aloud Day.
Mr Mkoyi said their target this year is to read to 1 million children. But they also want parents to read books to their children every day.
He said it was shocking that only five percent of parents read to their children and that is why they held the walk.
“What about the remaining 95 percent children whose parents do not read books to them. We need to inculcate a culture of reading amongst the black community. The perception that teachers are responsible for the children learning should stop. We want our children to start reading from an early age but we want parents to play their pivotal role in urging children to read,” he said.
Mr Mkoyi said reading regularly would stimulate children’s minds and boost their curiosity
He said reading aloud, especially in the home language, was one of the most important things that parents can do for their children. He said reading and sharing stories at home or in the classroom has the power to uplift the country, but it’s a practice that needs to be repeated and access to books may be a barrier to this.
Librarian at Khulani library Yandiswa Pearls said reading campaigns help children to start appreciating the value and importance of books.
She said reading initiatives such as this one helped them reach parents.
She said the biggest challenge was that a number of children were battling to read and parents were not supporting their children.
“We want parents to take full responsibility of their children’s education. Education is life itself,” she said.
Grade 6 pupil Yolanda Maqubela said she joined the library’s book club a year ago. She said reading regularly had helped her improve her marks.