Learning through reading
The CNA Readathon Campaign’s slogan under the Read Education Trust this year is: The more you read, the more you know.
Launched in June at the Hlakaniphani Junior Primary School in Dlamini, Soweto, the campaign has the backing of CNA and it will run until the end of September to coincide with both South Africa’s Literacy Week and International Literacy Day.
The initiative is driven by Read Education Trust, an NGO that has been at the forefront of promoting a culture of reading and writing among primary-school learners since 1979, with the help of the department of basic education. CNA has been the corporate sponsor since 2003.
Unesco’s statistics indicate illiteracy as a global challenge and South Africa is among the countries with high illiteracy levels: it occupies a poor 108th berth out of 178 countries.
South African learners have consistently scored poorly in international literacy and numeracy tests such as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timms) and Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (Pirls).
According to Innocentia Buthelezi of Edcon, of which CNA is a part, the campaign is “in perfect harmony with our community focus for the development of education”, which is to help to “develop a culture of reading and also highlights the importance of literacy”. She said the aim was for learners to develop an interest in reading beyond the classroom.
High-profile personalities have been roped in to raise awareness and promote a culture of reading among children. Another key area of focus for the campaign is to promote book clubs in all schools across the country.
To encourage learners to “express themselves meaningfully in writing”, learners will be provided with journals, which offer a platform for interaction and the sharing of experiences among “friends and strangers”. Recipients of the journal record their experiences and pass them on to the next person until the journal is full, at which point it is returned to CNA stores or Read to publish the best entries.
Members of the public can take part by simply purchasing books available from CNA stores with “Buy me and donate” stickers on the cover. Proceeds from the sale of the books will be channelled towards building “much-needed libraries in our schools”. Some of the titles on the list include Nelson Mandela’s Favourite Folk Tales, The Kite Runner, Lord of the Rings and Spud.
Below are tips from the CNA Readathon Handbook on how to start a book club in your school:
Joining the book club must be voluntary. Those learners who want to read and share books with their friends should be encouraged to join. The book club is separate from class reading and can have meetings at different levels. A special book club could be arranged for the foundation phase and another for intermediate phases. Or it could be arranged for different classes or grades. Remember that the books are different from those in class and will often be chosen by the learners themselves.
Teachers should introduce the idea of a book club at assembly or in class by:
- Showing some exciting books or other reading materials and talking about them;
- Talking about book club arrangements;
- Helping learners structure their book club;
- Selecting and buying the books, involving the learners in the process where possible;
- Reading the books and talking about them at book-club meetings;
- Helping learners with the routine of meetings so that all learners get a turn to talk about books and choose books in an orderly way;
- Helping with arranging a place and times for meetings (once a fortnight/once a month); and
- Attending all meetings of the book club until it is well established and then encouraging a core of regular book-club members to meet independently (at home, at school, over weekends, and so on).
Learners should see the book club as their own club and should be encouraged to make it an appealing, stimulating experience for readers by:
- Deciding where and when to meet;
- Formulating rules;
- Raising money to buy books they want or have heard of from friends, family members or have borrowed from the library;
- Sharing books that they own and have enjoyed by lending them to the book club;
- Selecting the books;
- Brainstorming ideas, such as cake sales, for raising money to buy books;
- Arranging special outings to the library or to movies based on books;
- Advertising the book club;
- Collecting magazine and newspaper articles for the book club as well as books;
- Assigning each learner a duty to help run the book club; and
- Catering occasionally for a special book-club meeting.
Rules for the book club
Teachers will need to guide learners about the rules needed to run a successful book club. Learners will also need to be shown how to talk freely and openly about books. They can talk about why they have or have not enjoyed a book, and what they want to tell their friends about it. This is an informal sharing of ideas and learners should feel free to speak their minds.
Learners need to have rules for returning and looking after books (making and keeping a list of the members and the books they have taken and returned); attending regularly; storing the books; the procedure at meetings; taking turns to lead the meeting, talking about the books they have read so that each member can tell about his/her book and select books.