As librarians, we know that reading is fundamental. In fact, it is one of the most important ingredients in becoming all that you can be. It is our responsibility to encourage a reading culture in our communities and this begins with our little ones. That is why seven staff members representing the Department of Library Services at the University of Pretoria were very excited to visit Sunnyside Pre-Primary School on 5 February 2020 to participate in one of the biggest annual literacy events in the world and a favourite initiative - World Read Aloud Day.
World Read Aloud Day was founded by LitWorld in 2010. It has evolved into a global movement of millions of readers, writers, and listeners from communities all over the world coming together to honor the joyfulness and power of reading and sharing stories. Most importantly, its purpose is to advocate for literacy as a fundamental human right that belongs to everyone.
The DLS Marketing & Quality Assurance Office approached Protea Boekwinkel Hatfield to collaborate with us for this initiative and they kindly sponsored us with six books to donate to the four classes at the school, ranging from 0 to 6 -year olds. The children and teachers alike were very happy to receive the books, which included special “touch and feel” elements on the pages. After story time, we surprised the children with some refreshments and we brought carrot cake along for their teachers to enjoy too! We received lovely feedback from Sunnyside Pre-Primary School Principal, Marietjie Engelbrecht: “What a privilege, UP Library. To be part of World Read Aloud Day. WOW!!! Thank you for ALL the spoils and blessings. Today you have made a DIFFERENCE!”
Reading aloud to the children and watching their eyes glitter with wonder and inquisitiveness was an extremely rewarding experience and it reminded each of us why cultivating a lively reading culture in South Africa is a highly worthwhile enterprise. As an academic institution, we have made significant research contributions in terms of studies investigating the high illiteracy rate in the country, and what we can do to combat it.
As you know, all research indicates that it is critical for accelerated and continuous efforts to be made to equip parents and teachers for their task of teaching children to read. However, research is only the first step in tackling high illiteracy rates – to make a difference, our actions must echo our research findings and we must actively participate in local reading initiatives and global movements such as World Read Aloud Day. After all, South Africa’s children deserve no less.
#WorldReadAloudDay #WRAD #WRAD20
Sonto Mabena from UP Library Services and Bronia Olifant from Protea Boekwinkel Hatfield spreading the joy of reading with the beautiful children from Sunnyside Pre-Primary School.