Encouraging kids to read in their language

by Kimberly Flanagan

Have you ever read your child a bedtime story and in the middle of the story you realise, but my kids are nothing like these characters in the book or you’re busy reading and your child stops you to explain a word or a phrase to them because they don’t understand it? I think as parents and as South Africans parents we have all been there. We live in a diverse nation with a vast variety of stories and languages and all of us have a unique story to tell. It’s not too difficult to find a story in South Africa that you as a South African can relate to. Well now, your children have the chance to relate to their bedtime stories as well.

Now two and a half years old, Ethnikids is a diverse children’s bookstore that provides Afrikiddies literature in all eleven South African languages. So if you’re looking for a story that your child can relate to, continue reading. I got in touch with the co-founder Khumo Tapfumaneyi and she explained to me what Ethnikids is all about.

Now two and a half years old, Ethnikids is a diverse children’s bookstore that provides Afrikiddies literature in all eleven South African languages. Photo: Supplied

“Ethnikids is a children’s bookstore that specialises in inclusive and diverse Afrikiddies literature in all official South African languages. Our aim is to spark a love of reading in our children by providing them with easy access to material they can identify with and relate to”

How did the idea come about?

“The idea was born out of frustration at the lack of stimulating representative material available in mainstream bookstores back then. As mothers – we wanted to be able to read to our children in our home languages and affirm them by sharing stories featuring characters that also look like them”

Why is it important for children to read?

“There are numerous developmental benefits, such as building vocabulary, a strong correlation with higher academic performance and stimulating their active imaginations. Reading to and with your children can also help with building stronger family bonds as stories, language and values are shared and memories are created”

How can people get involved with Ethnikids?

“We are all about supporting the enormous talent in this country and building a love of reading in our children. You can get involved by showing support for local children’s literature by buying books, following your favourite authors on social media and telling people about them, writing reviews for books and attending our “Meet the Author” book reading sessions”

What has been the response to Ethnikids since its inception?

“The response has been great so far. It’s been wonderful to share book joy with parents and children.”

What type of programs or activities do you offer for kids?“We offer monthly storytelling or book reading sessions called “Meet the Author” where children receive the opportunity to interact with and listen to stories told by the people who wrote them. “

How can we as parents encourage our children to read more and become lovers of literature?

“One of the best ways to encourage children to become readers is to model the behaviour yourself by reading. Also take the time to make reading to your children enjoyable. Put on voices for different characters, sing, ask questions and give them the opportunity to let you know what they thought of the story and how they think/thought it should end. Keep it an interactive family activity.”

If you would like to get in touch with Khumo or the rest of the team at EthniKids you can send an email to:

enquiries@ethnikids.co.za or visit their website at www.ethnikids.co.za

You can also follow them on all social media platforms at @ethnikids_co


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