Non-profit organisation The Nal'ibali Trust is inviting avid book readers to join its inaugural nation book exchange project. Picture: Nal'ibali.

Johannesburg - Non-profit organisation The Nal'ibali Trust is inviting avid book readers to join its inaugural nation book exchange project taking place this Saturday. 

The project, aimed at expanding the organisation's reading-for-enjoyment campaign, will take place in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Free State, Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.

The book exchange welcomes books of any variety; printed or handmade books for adults or children can be swapped. Those bringing books to exchange will receive a special sticker which can be placed on the inside cover. 

The sticker provides an opportunity for the previous owner to inscribe their name and location before passing it on.

Nal’ibali’s Managing Director Jade Jacobsohnsays: "Literacy Mentors across the country will be hosting public book exchange events, where everyone is encouraged to bring and swap a book, enjoy storytelling and read-aloud sessions, and find out more about how they can read and share stories effectively with their children.’

Illiteracy is the academic handbrake

According to Nal’ibali, a recent Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) study revealed that 78% of Grade 4’s in South Africa are illiterate. 

All the more worrying when the ability to read in Grade 4 is regarded as crucial. From Grades 1 to 3 you learn to read, but from Grades 4 to 12 you read to learn. 

‘If a learner is unable to read properly, they will never get a firm grasp on the first rung of the academic ladder and will fall further and further behind,’ says Stellenbosch University education expert Nic Spaull.

Furthermore, research shows that only 35% of adults read regularly to their children and very few are readers themselves. But teachers, parents and caregivers can play a significant role in children’s literacy development. 

This makes the Nal’ibali book exchange an easy and fun way for caregivers and adults to start to model positive reading behaviours and become reading role models for their children.

Reading is learning to fly

"Academics aside, children who learn to read fluently take a flight into a whole new world, fueled by imagination and buoyed by curiosity," Jacobsohn contends.

"We recognise and respect the power and potential of communities in literacy development and are working to build a nation of people who are interested and passionate about storytelling, reading and writing. We want to ensure that every child has at least one reading role model who uses reading and writing in meaningful ways with them, who encourages them to read, and who supports them through the provision of books and other literacy materials."

Jacobsohn further says: "They can’t do it alone. The book exchange intends to encourage adults and children to engage actively in fun literacy behaviours".

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