Read aloud for literacy development this World Read Aloud Day

The national Nalíbali reading-for-enjoyment campaign is preparing to shatter its 2016 record and read aloud to at least half a million children across South Africa this World Read Aloud Day (WRAD), Thursday 16 February.

GOOD NEWS: Read aloud for literacy development this World Read Aloud Day

The campaign, along with pledging partners including the Department of Basic Education (DBE); the Department of Social Development; LIMA; LIASA; Rotary; Volkswagen South Africa; The Bookery; and Zisize Ingwavuma Educational Trust, aims to raise awareness among adults and caregivers of the vital role of reading aloud in children’s literacy development by issuing a brand new story and calling on its friends, partners and members of the public to join them in reading it out loud to children on the same day.

Last year, with the help of the nation, over 300 000 children heard a special story read to them in their own language and this year read-aloud sessions – big and small – are planned nationally. Some community reads will be led by Nali’bali, and others will be organised by members of the public with schools, libraries, fellow literacy organisations and non-profits joining in.

Reading aloud is an important building block in children’s literacy development: it shows them how stories work; it teaches that reading and stories can be meaningful and satisfying; it offers an opportunity for adults and children to connect and get to know each other in relaxed ways, and, when read in home languages, it builds the foundations that children will need to learn a second language. This is particularly vital for school children making the transition from instruction in their home language to English in Grade 4.

“Nal’ibali sees World Read Aloud Day as one of the most important events on our calendar,” says Jade Jacobsohn, Nal’ibali Managing Director. “Children who are immersed in great and well-told stories – in languages they understand – become inspired and are motivated to learn to read for themselves.”

This year, Nal’ibali has commissioned award-winning children’s author, Niki Daly, to write its special World Read Aloud Day story. Titled, ‘The Best Sound in the World’, the story has been translated into South Africa’s 11 official languages and illustrated by Rico. Along with supporting materials, it will be available for free on the Nali’bali website, and at from 1 February. Members of the public wishing to join in can also sign up on these sites. The Best Sound in the World is perfect for reading aloud as it incorporates onomatopoeic words which are sure to inspire the readers and make their listeners smile.

And, while read-aloud sessions will be taking place in homes, schools and communities, the day will be launched with an event at uShaka Marine World in Durban, which will see Nali’bali unveiling its newest drive: The Story Powered Schools project. Endorsed by the DBE and made possible by United States Agency for International Development (USAID) project will be working with selected rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape to unlock learner’s potential through storytelling and reading. Attended by children from a nearby primary school, the little listeners will be in for a special treat with young SA author, Buhle Ngaba, who will be giving the reading, shares her own journey as an author and her enjoyment of reading with them. Further, The AmaZulu soccer team will also be in attendance. Engaging the children in books and stories, they will be demonstrating their support for literacy development in South Africa and acting as reading role models to other adults as well as their supporters.

For Nal’ibali, one of the most important components of WRAD is the way that the day ignites a groundswell of reading:

“Everyone can join in and be part of an initiative that benefits each and every one of us,” said Ben Rycroft, Head of Communications at Nal’ibali. “This is just the beginning. We are confident that people will realise that reading aloud is fun as well as meaningful, and will continue throughout the year.”

“Being able to enjoy a story in your own language is really special. We hope to hear echoes of the story in different languages and in different voices as the adults and caregivers around us take up the call to read aloud. ” concludes Jacobsohn.

To take part in World Read Aloud Day 2017, fill in the pledge form and access this year’s special story at and You can also follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter: nalibaliSA.

Each year Nal’ibali sends out a call to all their partners to join them in celebrating this day and help pass on the power of reading aloud. Now, Nal’ibali is extending the invitation once again as they attempt to break their 2016 record of reading aloud to 510 000 children – something Nal’ibali can do with your help!

The story will be available in a digital format in all 11 official South African languages and related activity ideas as well as tips on reading aloud can be accessed from the website