7 September 2015 was all aboard with much excitement when National Book Week (NBW) kick-started its countrywide tour yesterday. NBW is #GOINGPLACES.
The first stop of this week-long adventure was Heidelberg Library, where children from Lethabo Primary School and Kgoroyathuto High School gathered for some fun games, music and inspiration. Talking to their teachers, it was clear that the NBW campaign was desperately needed to inspire the young minds. Proving a commissioned 2007 study that found that only 14% of South Africans read books, Grade 10 teacher Zaira Solomons from Kgoroyathuto said she often had to “fight” to get her learners to read.
“But this can only take them so far,” she acknowledged. “It comes down to parents and the home environment. We can instruct the children to read and give them books, but we don’t go home with them.”
Solomons, who is doing her dissertation on literacy in disadvantaged areas, pointed out that the legacy of inferior education pre-democracy played a major role in this phenomena. “Events like this are important to try conscientise the kids into reading for pleasure, and reading beyond the bare minimum to pass,” Solomons added.
The 2007 study also found that an astounding 51% of households do not have a single leisure reading book, a fact that Lethabo’s Grade 4 teacher, Nonhlanhla Vilakazi, lamented. “Most of them don’t read in their own time, even when we set up special library times for them they just don’t show up,” she said. Vilakazi said events like yesterday’s were vital to try to encourage young people to read, and that she would like to see their library introducing activities and games to attract more children to the library.
The primary school children certainly enjoyed the stimulating entertainment, especially the Wordathon, sing-alongs and the performance by their schools’ cultural group. The teenagers were particularly excited with singing and dancing along with the Nal’iBali performers. NBW mascot, Funda Bala, was a hit with all the learners, who enjoyed playing, dancing and interacting with him. Singer Nancy G also struck a chord with her acoustic performance, while CEO Hitman held his own with the star-struck learners.
A visit to Heidelberg Mall’s Bargain Books to promote the #BUYABOOK campaign, where a toy library was set up, concluded a very good book day. What can probably sum up this heartwarming day was a little boy who clutched his donated book for dear life, saying it was his first [leisure] book ever.
This is the beauty of the #GOINGPLACES campaign. So make sure you #BUYABOOK and support a good cause.