Award-winning Australian children’s author, Andy Griffiths – best known for his Treehouse series – treated children at Nal’ibali’s Shining Stars Reading Club in Masiphumelele to a special reading.
Mr Griffiths made South Africa the first stop on his two-month mini world tour.
Nal’ibali is a national reading-for-enjoyment campaign that aims to spark the potential of all children through reading and storytelling in home languages as well as English.
With a network of over 1 000 reading clubs across the country, including 20 that have been running in the Masiphumelele community for the past three years, Nal’ibali is built on the simple logic that a culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa.
Understanding the far-reaching benefits of reading for enjoyment with children, and as a literacy ambassador for children in his home country, Mr Griffiths made sure a visit to a Nal’ibali reading club was included in his tour.
He said: “I love meeting children and helping them to feel positive about reading and writing. I used to be a teacher and came across many children who didn’t like to read in my classroom. I started writing funny stories for them and quickly saw the effects as they soon wanted to start drawing and writing for themselves.”
Bringing this element to his visit with the Nal’ibali club, not only did Mr Griffiths share his own journey as a reader and an author with the children, but included a special “balloon orchestra” – a noisy and interactive experience, in his storytelling.
He presented the club with a complete set of his Treehouse book series and signed teaser copies with just the beginning chap- ters for all the club members; enticing them to read and share the full set and extend the story experience by making up their own endings.
Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali managing director, said: “Author visits are a special experience for our reading club children. It shows them that books are written by real people, just like them. This is an inspiring and import- ant experience for young read ers.
“When children are immersed in well-told books and stories – especially in languages they understand, they experience reading and writing as satisfying and meaningful and are motivated to learn to read and write themselves. Research has also shown a direct link between children who read for pleasure and improved school outcomes, not just in English and other languages, but across all subjects including maths and science,” said Mr Jacobsohn.
For those wanting to get reading and writing with their children at home, or to set up their own reading clubs, tips and guides on reading and sharing stories with children as well stories in a range of South African languages are available on the Nal’ibali web and mobisites: www.nalibali.org and www.nalibali.mobi.
Thulisa Mayekiso, the Nal’ibali Literacy Mentor guiding reading clubs in Masiphumelele, can also be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org