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World Read Aloud Day: Aim to get 3 million SA kids involved

World Read Aloud Day ambassador and author Sihle Nontshokweni. Picture: Supplied.

World Read Aloud Day ambassador and author Sihle Nontshokweni. Picture: Supplied.

Published Feb 4, 2021


Durban - SOUTH Africa celebrates World Read Aloud Day today by aiming to have 3 million children listening to stories read aloud by carers, parents and teachers.

“Nal’ibali, a national NGO, encourages reading-for-enjoyment and has been bringing a purpose written story to children in South Africa on this special day for the past eight years,” said World Read Aloud Day (Wrad) spokesperson Kathy Malherbe.

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Each year, Nal’ibali commissions a brand new story and translates it into all 11 official SA languages. This year’s story is Fly, everyone, fly! written by Wrad ambassador and well-known author Sihle Nontshokweni.

Nontshokweni is the best-selling author of Wanda, a children’s book. She is studying towards her PhD at the University of Pretoria. Her area of research is identity and racial desegregation in the post-apartheid school set-up. Her interest in schools stems from lived experience, which extends across 12 schooling institutions, including Peking University in Beijing. It is from this vast world experience that Nontshokweni tells stories.

“World Read Aloud Day is about drawing attention to the importance of reading aloud to children in their mother tongue. It’s about encouraging parents, teachers and caregivers to read aloud to the children in their lives. This will give these young enquiring minds their first tiny wings of imagination which, if nurtured, will allow them to fly, soar and immerse themselves in another world. They will acquire the language and tools to reach their full potential during each flight,” Malherbe said.

Reading underpins all school learning in children and when a child is read to regularly, said Malherbe, they perform better in the classroom, regardless of their socio-economic circumstances.

“Stories can be shared any time, anywhere so, wherever children and caregivers find themselves today, Nal’ibali is encouraging them to start or maintain a reading routine,” Malherbe said.

Nontshokweni is scheduled to give a special reading of the story – in English, isiXhosa and isiZulu, live on Nal’ibali’s Facebook page @nalibaliSA at 1pm today.

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Caregivers and their children are invited to join the digital read-aloud not only to hear the story, but to engage with the author and each other too.

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