Pretoria - Sihle Nontshokweni has written a story that will be read by three million South African children as part of the global World Read Aloud Day today.
The 12th commemoration of the day aims to celebrate the power of reading aloud and the impact this can have on children and adults alike. The author collaborated with Nal’ibali SA, South Africa’s national reading-for-enjoyment campaign.
Nal’ibali and Nontshokweni want to have a record-breaking three million South African children reading her book today.
The book is the second for Nontshokweni, a staff member at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Education Innovation.
It follows the best-selling success of her debut children’s book Wanda, co-authored with Mathabo Tlali. She said the new book, Fly Everyone (Afrika), is a story about the power of imagination and dreaming.
As part of the national campaign around World Read Aloud Day, the book has been translated into all of South Africa’s official languages. “It is about a young boy named Afrika, who dreams of becoming a pilot. While he has never flown in an aeroplane before, he uses his imagination to fly and travel.
“He is fascinated by this alternate world, and even though he rides on a bus to visit his gogo, in his mind he flew, and wishes to tell all his friends about it,” she said.
She said storytelling had played an important role in her own development. “As a child, I experienced oracle storytelling. My cousins and I would sit under my grandmother’s voice, fascinated and captured by the stories she would tell us,” she said.
In preparation for the day, Nal’ibali has created a useful tip sheet that gives teachers and guardians information on why they should help children read aloud, and the long-term benefits associated with reading.
Nontshokweni said reading complemented all learning and education. “When kids can thoroughly read it makes it easier for them to delve into other text content without struggling,” she said.