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National Book Week: Reading transcends every day barriers

MOST children’s stories start with “Once upon a time”; however for many children the story doesn’t always end with “happily ever after”.

According to Elitha van der Sandt, CEO of the South African Book Development Council (SABDC), this is because not all children have the opportunity to grow up in a household with books.

Therefore, the National Book Week, which this year will go the virtual route owing to the coronavirus pandemic, is an awareness week dedicated to encouraging reading and promoting books.

It is an initiative of the SABDC in partnership with the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture and it will be hosted from September 7 to 13.

The programme this year includes digital content and to-do-activities which will be presented virtually on National Book Week’s Facebook page, respecting the boundaries of social distancing whilst still promoting all things books, writing and creativity.

The programme includes reading related activities, storytelling, poetry sessions, writing workshops, play-based learning and motivational talks in all South African languages.

A segment on “Stories from Africa” led by the multi-talented Gcina Mhlophe is also being introduced.

“Books and reading can’t cease to exist because of the pandemic. More than ever, it’s crucial that South Africa celebrates the importance of reading and books, hence we ask the country to join us in bringing more books to the people,” said Van der Sandt.

“Authors write books during the most catastrophic human experiences. They record and capture these moments, good and bad, which allow the reader to trans-cend the barriers they face in everyday life.”

South Africans all over the country will be able to access some of the content that is usually enjoyed at the reading festivals. Furthermore, the virtual format allows National Book Week to bring in more performers, more activities, and more speakers who otherwise would not have been able to participate.

Book donation drive

One of the country’s longest running book donation drives #BUYABOOK, a centrepiece of National Book Week returns this year with “Fun With Funda Bala” – a children’s activity book that can be bought at Bargain Books and Exclusive Books for only R20. The public is encouraged to buy the book and pay it forward, that is, donate it to a child or adult in their environment.

According to the research by SABDC, 58% of homes in South Africa do not have a single book.

  • Go to sabookcouncil.co.za for more information and the programmes.
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