It is National Book Week from 3 – 9 September! To celebrate this occasion ‘Youth Potential South Africa – YOUPSA’ is launching a Book Buddies Programme in partnership with four Gamtoos Valley schools, with a goal of expanding the programme throughout the Gamtoos Valley area.
The Book Buddies Programme pairs learners of different ability and age to read together for pleasure, 2 – 3 times a week for 15 minutes. Over time their interest in books grows, their literacy skills naturally improve, and their relationships strengthen.
This small change has a large impact because reading helps a person to understand themselves and to navigate the world around them. Reading is not only about the ability to decode a text. Rather, the main benefits of reading are that it activates our imagination, develops our thinking processes, deepens empathy, helps us to learn problem-solving, and teaches us to practice self-reflection. The more young people read for pleasure, the faster they gain the language and thinking skills they need for academic success and for their own personal development.
In South Africa’s rural areas, the crisis in reading skills among youth is deepest.
Amongst a range of literacy-boosting programmes, YOUPSA offers Mobile Village Libraries (books in a bag, managed by youth librarians) and nurtures youth reading clubs.
Reading for pleasure is also an important and loved part of YOUPSA’s weekly Creative Youth Empowerment Programmes with the children at YOUPSA’s partner schools. The children always ask to do more reading together. None of the schools have a school library and many teachers feel ill-equipped to teach reading. To assist the community to overcome these challenges, from October onwards YOUPSA is offering a Literacy Volunteer Training Programme in the Valley to enable more people to bring the joy of reading into the communities.
There is a huge demand for books for reading for pleasure in the Eastern Cape rural areas, mainly in isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English.
You can help YOUPSA by donating new or good quality books for children and youth, or by donating petrol vouchers to cover the weekly travel costs to different literacy programmes. YOUPSA also encourages authors or illustrators to volunteer to share their skills with the children. Contact details: cell: 076 1233832, website: www.youpsa.org; Facebook: www.facebook.com/