Celebrating the joy of reading during Literacy Month
9 October, 2017
September saw our teams increase our efforts in highlighting the growing concerns around the number of children who are able to read and write at even a basic level. National literacy month challenged many to focus on ways of improving literacy levels and highlighting the importance of reading and having access to books. help2read has focussed on intensifying efforts to alleviate illiteracy by arranging collaborative events aimed at increasing volunteers in order to reach more learners through our one-on-one sessions, distributing books to learners to ensure that more learners have access to appropriate reading material, and hosting reading sessions to foster the love for stories and reading.
During National Book Week our teams were out and about, engaged in increasing awareness with the Drop Everything And Read campaign. The Johannesburg team kicked off the campaign by visiting our partner schools in Alexander, Iphuteng and Ekukhanyisweni Primary; also making an appearance at Roseneath Primary later on in the week, where Grade 2 learners were entertained in a reading session. Learners were delighted to be read to from big, beautifully illustrated books and they listened eagerly as the help2read team read with animation. The interactive reading sessions were well received and to top it all off, at each of these events learners received their very own book to take home. The Olivedale Corner Shopping Centre was transformed by the energetic team that congregated there, encouraging people to Drop Everything and Read and convey the message to everybody else they know. The excitement around reading escalated to the point where people were requesting to buy the help2read books…and so a book sale erupted.
While this was underway in the City of Gold, the Mother City team was hosting recruitment teas. Our current volunteers and their “bring-along buddy’ socialised at various venues where prospective volunteers were encouraged to become part of the help2read team and make a difference in the lives of learners who struggle to read. In an effort to raise awareness around reading, we simultaneously wanted to raise awareness around the important role that volunteers and the community play in the plight to eradicate illiteracy. Our committed and dedicated volunteers act as a testament of how one can spend just a few minutes a day helping learners to discover a love for books and reading. We wish to thank St. Pauls Catholic church in Plumstead, Westcott Primary school, Alicedale Primary, Denneguer Primary and Hazendal Primary who acted as hosting venues where a group of good-hearted people could get together to engage on the issues of literacy. The help2read Relationship Coordinators facilitated discussions by presenting help2read but it was the attending help2read volunteers who really added value to the events by sharing their own personal experiences as volunteer reading helpers. The volunteer reading helpers reflected on their experiences and fulfilment as they acknowledged the progress that their learners have made. The energy was inspiring and at one such meeting volunteers were given the opportunity to enjoy some quiet time reading Julia Donaldson favourites from the book box at Dennegeur Primary. The group were gifted with another special treat as one of the volunteers opted to read aloud as others listened attentively.
As people were winding down for the weekend, the help2read Jozi team hosted 3 groups of 30 learners each at the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre where help2read was invited to be part of their International Literacy Day 2017 programme. Grade 3 learners from Noordgesig Primary, Rutegang Primary and Ditawana Primary were engaged.
The Cape Town team also ended their week with a bang when 3 help2read schools decided to Drop Everything and read. A Grade 1 class at Rondebosch East Primary School received a special treat as they started their day with a special visit from the principal. He read enthusiastically to the class and had them glued to his every word as he told the story titled “A library for bear”. At the end of the reading, he proudly announced that he would be doing some more readings to the older grades during the course of the day. Across Town, Sid G Rule Primary started their Drop Everything and Read initiative. Teachers at the school dedicated some time to read aloud to learners. As the weekend approached…and just before the school day ended, Cecil Road Primary gave their learners a pre-weekend treat by having the entire school captured in the world of storytelling. Teachers had children enticed when they too, dropped everything and read aloud to their learners. It was quite an experience walking into classes and seeing children mesmerized and teachers thoroughly enjoying the reading.
Although Literacy month has come to an end help2read endeavours to continue to engage with enablers and community members who share the love and passion for reading. The Drop Everything And Read campaign transformed learners and teachers, where an ordinary day was coloured by a welcomed interruption to enjoy a good story. As we head into the warmer seasons we wish to see more children spend their time enjoying a good book under a tree, or sitting together in reading corners being read to as they allow their imagination to be activated.
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