There is no substitute for books in the life of a child. Stephen King once said: “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” Which is why the non-profit organisation The Nal’ibali Trust is expanding on its reading-for-enjoyment campaign, to initiate a national book exchange project on May 26.
Jade Jacobsohn, MD of The Nal’ibali Trust, says: “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.”
How it works
The book exchange welcomes books of any variety – printed or handmade – books for adults or children to be swapped. Those bringing books to exchange will receive a special sticker that 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.
Illiteracy is the academic handbrake
A recent study by Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) states that 78 percent 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.
Although parents have high aspirations for their children, many are not aware that reading is a powerful way to help them reach their potential. Research shows that only 35 percent of adults read regularly to their children and very few are readers themselves.
However, teachers, parents and caregivers can play a significant role in their children’s literacy. The Nal’ibali Trust book exchange is 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, fuelled by imagination and buoyed by curiosity,” notes Jacobsohn. Yet, the child can’t do it alone. The book exchange intends to encourage adults and children to engage actively in fun literacy behaviours.
“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 adds.
“With opportunities to browse through different books, sit down and read or page through story books with children or simply get chatting with other community members about the books you have read, the book exchange promises to be a fun activity for all ages. With May being ‘Get Caught Reading Month’, there really is every reason to get down to your local book exchange,” Jacobsohn concludes.