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Children feel the magic of stories at World Read Aloud Day

By Ashraf Hendricks, GroundUp.  Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Everyone who can - teachers, parents, caregivers - should read to children, says Gabrielle Kelly, Head of Research, Impact and Innovation at Nal’ibali. Speaking at a World Read Aloud Day event organised byNal’ibali and the City of Cape Town, she said reading aloud to children helps them to learn to read independently “and to adopt reading as a way of life”.

According to a 2021 study by the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), over 80% of grade 4 children in South Africa cannot read for meaning.

About 200 learners from grades R, 4 and 5 gathered at the park on Wednesday to celebrate World Read Aloud Day.

Nali’bali has been running World Read Aloud Day in South Africa for over ten years.

People from various organisations, authors, and even players from the Stormers read to the children. Schools involved include Essenhout Primary in Delft South, Mamre Primary in Atlantis, Vukani Primary in Philippi and Enkululekweni Primary in Wallacedene.

Aroenisha Philander, a grade 5 and 7 teacher at Mamre Primary School, says that some grade 7 learners don’t even know the alphabet. “I don’t know how they’ve gone through all those grades,” she said.

Many of the learners and schools at the event came from areas suffering from poverty and gang violence, which greatly affects learning ability, Philander said. Events like this are helpful as learners are more interested if someone else reads a story to them, she says. When they read on their own, “they don’t understand”.

Tracey Muir-Rix, Children Services Coordinator at the City of Cape Town, reads to learners. “World Read Aloud Day celebrates the power and magic of stories,” she says.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis said many of the problems of South African learners could be fixed “by just the simple act of daily reading.”

The City is trying to help through the many public libraries available across the city, he said.

 This  article was originally published in GroundUp


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