Indigenous Language Reading Festivals to headline National Book Week
National Book Week (NBW), South Africa’s reading awareness week dedicated to encouraging reading and promoting books opens on 02 September 2019. Celebrated during the first week in September every year, the week-long reading awareness campaign sees various activities aimed at children, youth and adults in the communities.
During the week, each of the hosts create a vibrant atmosphere on a selected day for children, learners, youth and adults aimed at inspiring them to read. In its 10th year, NBW, as part of its celebrations and to observe UN’s International Year of Indigenous Languages, will, together with the Department of Library Services host Reading Festivals at multiple venues.
The indigenous language reading festivals are complemented on the day by a diverse set of activities suitable for all age groups. Youngsters and children are treated to hip hop performances and poetry, storytelling as well as motivational talk by successful South Africans. The Wordathon, a series of word building card game is particularly enjoyed by all the guests.
The day also has an educational element catering to librarians, caregivers and teachers and events on offer include training workshops in addition to sessions dedicated promoting digital reading amongst teens.
“Our national survey found that 64% of South Africans prefer to read in English. It is therefore important that we promote the use of indigenous languages,” says Elitha van der Sandt, CEO, South African Book Development Council.
“Recognising this, we promote and prioritise reading awareness in indigenous languages. Our festival activities therefore celebrate the language of the region. In this way we support mother tongue instruction, which plays a critical role in equipping children to build stronger literacy and numeracy skills. Alarmingly 40% of the world’s population are not taught in a language they speak or understand.”
Over the last 10 years, NBW has hosted 82 reading festivals across South African townships, rural and urban areas.