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Teenagers start their own reading club

After four months of training with The Project for the Study of Alternative Education (PRAESA) as part of the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign, Nal’ibali Story Stars Asemahle Ndadane (15), Dunyiswa Jack (15), Sonwabise Sifo (15), Xabisa Maswana (14), Nandipha Tokwe (15) and Phumza Gijane (15) decided to start their own reading club.

Every Tuesday, the five Sakumlandela Teen Reading Club founders meet in a classroom at their school in Khayelitsha with 30 of their fellow teens to debate, sing, and tell stories.

Q: Why do you think reading clubs are important for the future of South Africa?

A: They build confidence in participants; improve reading; and are a free and fun space for learning. Through reading clubs, people get the opportunity to understand reading as a process. Reading is part of life!

Q:  What is the biggest challenge when it comes to running your reading club?

A: Getting books!

Q: What’s your advice to other young people thinking about starting their own reading club?

A: They must first observe the functioning of reading club; they need to “experience” a reading club session. You also need to be ready for challenges: always make sure you have your reading club plan; be organised; give other participants the opportunity to facilitate sessions; and ensure participants enjoy the reading club by creating fun activities!

Q: How do you think we can get more young people reading for pleasure?

A: Firstly, you need to understand young people. Be honest about your own reading experiences with them. Conduct reading motivational talks and encourage young people to join reading clubs and become library members. You also need to encourage adults to read and tell stories to children, because this will encourage more storytelling among children. Distribute storybooks and have mobile libraries and children-only libraries. We also need to have a system where children can order or borrow books using cell phones!

Q: What are your favourite books to read at your reading club?

Broken Promises, Cinderella and Stolen Smells.

Q:  Where do you get your books?

A: At the school library.

Q: So, what makes reading and reading clubs cool?

A: Reading is a way for us to understand one another. Also, the club was created by us, and is place where there are no assessments, just freedom of expression. And… because reading is fun.

To start your own reading club, visit www.nalibali.org or www.nalibali.mobi.

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