South Africa celebrates National Book Week
2019 from 2-8 September, culminating in
International Literacy Day.
International Literacy Day, an initiative of UNESCO, seeks to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies. It’s important to do so when one considers that UNESCO estimates that 775-million people worldwide – two-thirds of them women – are illiterate.
National Book Week, according to the South African government, is aimed at “encouraging the nation to value reading as a fun and pleasurable activity, and to showcase how reading can easily be incorporated into one’s daily lifestyle”.
These intentions are lofty, certainly. But what do these initiatives intend to achieve?
The importance of literacy
Literacy is directly linked to improved socio-economic and health outcomes, and is a measure of a country’s human capital; the more literate people are, the better off they generally are. And while National Book Week appears to be focused on reading for enjoyment, the important part is about making reading a daily habit.
But here’s the thing: central to literacy is reading development, which begins with understanding speech and then decoding written words, and ends with the deep understanding of text. In other words, to be considered literate a person must be able to not only read words, but also comprehend what they are reading.
Vital to getting children to read for meaning is to introduce them to books and reading before they turn five. But in South Africa, far too many small children don’t have easy access to books – either at home or for lack of a local library.
Literacy in South Africa
The upshot is that our country’s children have one of the worst rates in the world for reading. Did you know that four out of five South African 10-year-olds can’t read properly? And did you know that you can actually help change that, and secure better futures for our children?
The major problem is a lack of books for kids aged between three and five years, the most vital time for instilling a love of reading. But there is a quick, easy solution that costs virtually nothing, which just about anyone can put into practice.
What is the solution?
The solution is to create more books, and get them into the hands of three- to five-year-olds. Ordinarily, this would involve huge publishing and logistical costs. However, there is a solution, thanks to technological innovation and lateral thinking.
And every single one of us can do it.
You can be part of the solution to South Africa’s reading crisis!
Hollard’s InstaStory Books initiative puts the power to create children’s books in your hands – allowing you to easily conceptualise, write, illustrate and lay out a book.
At a recent InstaStory Books workshop, writer and editor of children’s books, Jenny Hatton provided aspirant authors with some great tips:
- Children’s books should usually be fewer than 500 words in length, and an InstaStory Book shouldn’t have more than 50 words
- Before you write, you must read… children’s books
- Stories usually have a beginning, middle and end – but a children’s book can simply describe a scene or incident
- A character can make a story work
- Suspenseful stories begin with a problem or obstacle that escalates before it is surmounted, creating narrative tension
- The text and pictures need to elicit a response from the children
- Text and illustrations work together to make the story
- Children’s books can be educational – but must still be fun
- Children’s books open up a world of language, so introduce a few new, more difficult words (but not too many!)
- It is very important to read aloud to young children
- Be authentic
- Don’t patronise or preach
Create your own InstaStory Book
Hollard InstaStory Books are super-easy to create using Instagram’s Stories feature and, of course, your imagination! The InstaStory Books page on the Hollard website has all the tutorial content you need. You’ll be ready to get going within a few minutes.
There are already scores of InstaStory Books already on the page for you to check out. Take inspiration from them or simply enjoy.
Once your InstaStory Book is completed, all you need to do is send it to Hollard’s Instagram account. It will then be uploaded to the InstaStory Books page, where anyone can download it or print it out. Your story will enthrall our country’s small children, while giving them a vital foundation for better futures!
It’s as simple as that! You’ll have done your bit for giving our country’s children a crucial foundation for better futures!
Note: The idea is for these stories to be printed out, therefore making them more accessible. Read about the importance balance between paper books and digital here.