Johannesburg - Educational psychologist Seago Maapola said reading with children developed a strong parent-child bond, and books that promoted cultural diversity had numerous other benefits.
She highlighted that children might exhibit negative emotions and connotations about their ethnic identity when they were primarily exposed to a Eurocentric culture.
“Exposing children to content and literature that includes diverse ethnicities can positively impact children’s self-image. It develops their confidence and pride in who they are and where they come from, and builds acceptance of others from a young age,” Maapola said.
A benefit of reading as a family is that it promotes brain and language development, and develops emotions and strengthens relationships.
Maapola said spending 15 minutes a day reading together can make the world of difference – cementing the parent-child bond and using books to encourage children to spark their curiosity and imagination while developing their language and literacy skills.
“Children need to see diversity in the books they read. This breeds understanding and acceptance of cultural differences while helping children learn more about what makes them unique and what unites them with the world around them,” she said.
Reading books written in a home language and incorporating characters of colour that children can identify with can affect a child’s sense of self.
Maapola said although it was important to encourage bilingualism, one’s “first” or “home language” had a continuing and significant role in self-identity as well as learning.
South Africa’s storytelling tradition is being brought to families through two brands, their identity of which is rooted in the country’s rich heritage.
Wimpy, and Ethnikids, an online children’s bookstore specialising in books that provide diverse material, have partnered for a second year to give children access to an African folktale collection of books in their home language.
Wimpy marketing executive Jacques Cronjé said: “As a family restaurant where everyone young and old is welcome, we’re passionate about kids and their education.
“We have partnered with Ethnikids, started by five South African moms, to bring our edutainment philosophy to life, bringing real South African stories to kids in a fun and engaging way.”