English author, Neil Gaiman expresses that 'We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves.'
Staff from the Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria (UP) walked to Pretoria East Primary School on Thursday, 16 February 2017 in celebration of World Read Aloud Day. While at the school, they read to 107 children, donated a few new books and Easter eggs, and handed out pretty pictures for the children to colour.
Ms Elsabe Olivier, Assistant Director of Marketing, Quality Assurance and Fundraising at the Department, said: 'The mention of reading aloud evokes many happy memories of bedtime with a parent, grandparent or a favourite teacher in a classroom – keeping us spellbound until the end. World Read Aloud Day gave us as librarians the opportunity to share in the joy of reading aloud to children, to create awareness of the importance of books and reading in our lives and to add our voice to this global movement. Research has long indicated the value of storybook exposure as it also influences reading fluency through the effects of vocabulary on phonological awareness.'
UP's gesture was well received at Pretoria East Primary School. 'Just like the heroes in TV series, the UP librarians were the heroes of the day – armed with books and reading glasses they invigorated the Pretoria East children's Reading Aloud Day,' says Karin Louw, Head of the Nursery School at Pretoria East Primary School.
Ms Olivier concluded by saying: 'As members of the Department of Library Services and representatives of our library organisation LIASA (Library and Information Association of South Africa) we are proud that we could play a small part in raising awareness for this global movement – showing that literacy belongs to all.'
This initiative is aligned with one of the core strategies of the University of Pretoria as an involved university, namely embedding community engagement and civic commitment in its academic mission.