The Joy of Words

Growing a Nation of Readers through Book Sharing.

Three-year old Sophia can best be described as self-assured.“I hope she will remain this determined as she grows up,” says her mother Letty. Letty explains that so many children are born bold and courageous but as the years go on, the harshness of township life in Alexandra, Johannesburg, chips away at them.

“This is why I want Sophia to do well at school. I want her to know that she can do whatever she wants when she is older,” said Letty.

Letty believes that Sophia’s dreams can be achieved with a solid learning foundation.

When Letty’s cousin, Maria, heard about our book sharing programme, she knew that Letty would be on board. “Letty was working at the time, but I know she wants the best for Sophia and I love that child too much also, so I asked her if I could take Sophia to the classes,” explained Maria.

Maria took her niece to every book sharing class and shared her knowledge and experiences with Letty.Together, both women began to instill the love of reading in Sophia. Maria would read to Sophia during the day and Letty would read to Sophia just before bedtime.

“Sophia often would tell me the story that her aunt read to her during the day. I love to listen and watch her as she points to the pictures,” beams Letty. “Sophia loves books.You can ask her to do anything if you tell her you will read her a story when she’s finished,” explains Maria.

“I think that reading to Sophia will help her at school because now she is getting a good foundation. Even though we share the story with her in Sepedi, I think she is developing a love for books, even the English ones, which I struggle with. However, reading with Sophia is also helping me and is improving my English.” 

Sophia is one of 20 children who participated in our evidence-based book- sharing programme.The initiative has been shown to improve literacy and deepen the caregiver/child relationship. We are implementing the book-sharing intervention for the additional purpose of reducing violence against children. 

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