It was a morning filled with books, storytelling and fun in the Company’s Garden as World Read Aloud Day (WRAD) was celebrated on Wednesday 5 February. WRAD is in its tenth year and aims to encourage a culture of reading and promotes community literacy. Non-governmental organisation Nal’ibali joined hands with libraries and brought 400 learners from across the city together for a storytelling festival. Children, as young as four years old, enjoyed being out in nature as they listened to stories in their mother tongue. Zahid Badroodien, Mayco member for community services and health, says: “It’s important to encourage a culture of reading because in the time of technology people are losing their connection to books. Reading opens up doors to employment and other opportunities and it allows us to dream and we want to ignite that passion in our young people.” Every year Nal’ibali participates in the campaign by commissioning a new story, suitable to children, that is read out aloud. It is also translated into the 11 official languages. The title of this year’s story is A Day to Remember. The organisation’s Kayin Scholtz says: “South Africa is the largest participant in WRAD. Last year we had around 1.5 million children read to across the country. This year we are trying to get 2 million children to experience the same story in their home language.” Local singer-songwriter Jarrad Ricketts was part of a team of readers who kept the children entertained. He says: “I want to spread the message about the importance of reading and connect with the youth of our country. This is an amazing initiative where we can use the power of reading to infiltrate the minds of these kids to make sure that they feel counted.” Children from ECD centres and schools were treated to singing, dancing, fun and games all in the name of learning. Raghma Booley, a learner at Imperial Primary School in Mitchell’s Plain, says she is an avid reader and loved being read to. The Grade 4 learner says she enjoys reading history books. Another learner, Tamara Lotter, says she likes to escape real life by reading fantasy books.