/ 19 March 2020

World Read Aloud Day breaks a record

World Read Aloud Day
A day to remember: Learners from local primary schools in Pretoria revel in the excitement of hearing a brand new story at the Es'kia Mpahele Community Library in Pretoria last month. (Daniel Born)

This year Nal’ibali, South Africa’s reading-for-enjoyment campaign set a target to read aloud to two million children on World Read Aloud Day in February. Issuing a special story in all 11 official languages and calling on the support of South Africans everywhere, the campaign has announced that close to three million children were read to.

World Read Aloud Day is a global event to draw attention to the importance of reading aloud to children in their mother tongue. Nal’ibali leads the initiative in South Africa. It raises awareness about the literacy crisis here and how caregivers — whether at home, at school or in the neighbourhood — can help overcome it through the simple yet effective action of reading aloud.

Research has shown that reading aloud is a powerful way to motivate children to learn to read themselves and to keep those who can already read, reading.

Having celebrated the day for the past seven years, Nal’ibali has seen the number of children reached each year increase exponentially. Last year 1559730 children were read to and this year that number almost doubled to 2925224. Easily supported, the drive is taken up annually by citizens, celebrities, education departments, library services and fellow nongovernmental organisations who all hold read-aloud events across the country.

Says Nal’ibali’s chief operating officer, Katie Huston: “I’ve attended many different World Read Aloud Day events over the years and the one thing they all have in common is excitement. Children love the chance to immerse themselves in something, and they love the vibe that comes with a special day and sense of occasion.”Huston further explained that to change South Africa’s reading culture, the way South Africans think and talk about reading has to change. She said reaching 2925224 children — or one in seven — is an indicator that this shift is taking place. Huston encouraged those that took part in the drive to continue to visit the Nal’ibali website for more stories and to continue to share these with the children in their lives.

For information about the Nal’ibali campaign, to sign up to be a FUNda Leader and join the loyalty programme, or get children’s stories in South African languages, visit nalibali.org and nalibali.mobi. You can also find Nal’ibali on Facebook and Twitter @nalibaliSA