02 April, 2015

International Children's Book Day

April 2 is International Children’s Book Day – championed throughout the world by the International Board on Books for Young People.

IBBY was founded in the years after WW2 in the belief that quality books can promote international understanding and peace. This belief resonates in our own diverse and divided society and underlies the work of IBBY in South Africa. Books, print or electronic, are windows to other possibilities and worlds - and of course to oneself. IBBY regards access to quality books as a fundamental children’s right; yet, as in all areas of life in South Africa, access to books is unequal across our income levels and languages. We all know of the low levels of literacy which are revealed every year by the various tests and which hamper academic performance across all learning areas. Children who enjoy reading will choose to read – and the more they read the easier they find it. But they do not learn to enjoy reading through remedial exercises – but rather through finding books and stories that give them pleasure and engage their imaginations.

Every primary school class room should have a comfortable reading corner loaded with attractive books in the mother tongues of the children;

every school should halt classes for half an hour each day for everyone in it to read quietly;

every child should be provided with a book and a public library membership card at birth;

the situation in which 80% of our schools are without functional libraries must be redressed.

These are the ways to achieve productive and transformational literacy.

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