Help break a record on World Read Aloud Day

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 This year’s story Fly, everyone, fly! is by best-selling local author, Sihle Nontshokweni. (Image supplied by Nal’ibali)
This year’s story Fly, everyone, fly! is by best-selling local author, Sihle Nontshokweni. (Image supplied by Nal’ibali)

World Read Aloud Day is taking place on Wednesday 3 February, and Nal’ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, is calling caregivers across the country to join the celebration and help them break their read-aloud record by reading a single story to 3 million children.

For the past eight years, Nal’ibali has proudly brought a brand-new special story to South Africa children to enjoy on the day. This year’s story Fly, everyone, fly! is by best-selling local author, Sihle Nontshokweni, and is available in all 11 official South African languages from the Nal’ibali website or via WhatsApp (message ‘WRAD’ to 060 044 2254); where caregivers can also make their pledges.

Also see: Nal’ibali: Signs your child is learning to read

Annual campaign to raise awareness

World Read Aloud Day is an important annual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of reading aloud in children’s literacy development and this year’s event carries even more weight with children having lost essential school time during 2020, and the start of the 2021 school year having been pushed back by two weeks.

Says Yandiswa Xhakaza, Nal’ibali CEO, "Reading underpins all school learning yet so many South African children struggle to read. Setting up a simple daily routine of sharing books and stories together can be an invaluable investment in their futures and World Read Aloud Day is the perfect opportunity to start that habit."

A special guide for sharing

To ensure that as many children as possible can benefit from the power of stories, Nal’ibali has partnered with the Centre for Early Childhood Development and PRAESA (the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa) to open the day up to preschool children too.

"2020 saw the extended closure of early childhood development centres during the national lockdown. The result of this is that many of these facilities have had to permanently shut their doors, leaving scores of young children cut off from early learning opportunities, meals and safety," explains Eric Atmore, Director of the Centre for Early Childhood Development and Extraordinary Associate Professor at Stellenbosch University’s Education Policy Studies Department.

PRAESA has therefore developed a special guide for sharing Nal’ibali’s WRAD story with children between the ages of 3 and 6. The guide is also freely available from the Nal’ibali website.

"Not all caregivers realise the benefit of sharing stories with very young children, but it is the children who were read to at home that perform better in the classroom later on as they have better memories, vocabularies and comprehension skills," concludes Xhakaza.

Members of the public are encouraged to join the drive and are reminded that stories can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere.

Nontshokwena herself will be giving a virtual reading of the WRAD story live on the Nal’ibali Facebook page (@nalibaliSA) at 1 p.m. on the day. Children and caregivers are invited to tune in, listen to the story and connect with the author and each other.

Submitted to Parent24 by Nal’ibali

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