South Africa celebrates National Book Week 2019 from 2-8 September, culminating in International Literacy Day. But what do these initiatives intend to achieve?
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. 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 a 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.
The upshot is that our country’s children have one of the worst rates in the world for reading for meaning: four out of five 10-year-olds cannot. 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 – but there is a solution, thanks to technological innovation and lateral thinking.
And every single one of us can do it.
Hollard’s InstaStory Books initiative shows how you can easily conceptualise, write, illustrate and layout a simple children’s book.
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 webpage, where anyone can download it or print it out.
It’s as simple as that – and you’ll have done your bit for giving our country’s children a crucial foundation for better futures!
This content was supplied by Flow Communications on behalf of Hollard Insurance