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Celebrating National Library Week with the launch of our reading journal for children

The Otto Foundation is celebrating library week with the launch of a reading journal for children called "The Reading Journey: A Journal for Your Literary Adventures".

National Library Week is celebrated annually in March to commemorate the opening of the first public library in South Africa in March 1818. The week is also planned to coincide with Human Rights Day on 21 March, thus acknowledging that libraries can play an important role in realising basic human rights – such as freedom of access to information and the right to education.

The Otto Foundation creates and manages libraries and reading programmes at a cluster of schools in District Six, Cape Town. Our mission is to deepen the culture of reading in these school, and to foster a love of reading.

Research indicates that whether or not a child reads for enjoyment can be a more important predictor of their success in education than the socio-economic circumstances that they grow up in. This is particularly important in the South African context where income inequality is high, and education outcomes are so often correlated with household income. It means that reading for enjoyment can be an equaliser in education. The Otto Foundation therefore welcomes the growing international recognition that encouraging reading for pleasure is a social justice issue.

“…Voluntary reading must be encouraged in school…and must be made possible for children of poverty. The first step in doing this is making sure large numbers books are easily available, which means a serious and committed investment in libraries.” - Stephen Krashen, April 2015

In order for children to read for enjoyment they need access to books and to be drawn into reading.

This is why the Otto Foundation believes it is important to keep investing in school libraries – coupled with library programmes that promote reading for enjoyment. This is also why our team created a reading journal for children, encouraging them to become self-motivated, conscious and curious explorers of the world of words and books.

The journal will be launched today at an event at one of the Otto Foundation’s libraries in District Six, the Sunflower Learning Centre.

The journal takes readers on a ‘reading journey’ through eight book-related themes, including: the Map of Memories, the Book Boat, the Poetry Plane, the Story Sled, the Mountains of Meaning, the Gorge of Gorgeous Words, the Forest of Feelings and the Desert of Dreams.

The themes are introduced through short poems followed by activity pages that strike a balance between instructional scaffolding, open-ended prompts, and space for creative expression - a combination which we hope will encourage both mindful reading and joyous creativity. The activities do not have pre-defined "correct" responses, which means that children can plot their own reading journeys - based on their own reading choices and what interests them as readers.

The values and convictions that informed the creation of the journal include that:

  • Reading is an activity that deserves to be celebrated.

  • Books can help children to better understand themselves and the world around them.

  • Activities to promote reading should be interactive, inviting children on a journey of exploration and creativity.

  • Children must be celebrate as co-creators by providing them with safe spaces where their creativity, ideas and opinions are valued and cherished.

  • Journaling can help children strengthen their writing abilities and can be both a liberating activity and a catalyst for new ideas and ways of being.

The concept and text for the journal was developed by the Otto Foundation team. The beautiful, quirky characters and illustrations were created by Xanelé Puren (the Otto Foundation’s Manager: Design & Placemaking). The poems for the Afrikaans version of the journal (titled “Reis Met Woorde”) were written by the renowned South African wordsmith Philip de Vos.

Proceeds from sales of the reading journal will go towards funding the Otto Foundation’s library programmes and will enable us to provide free copies of the journal to learners in under-resourced schools – thus investing in the deepening of our country’s reading culture.

Where to purchase the book:

The journal can be purchased through Imagnary House and will be available nationally at good book stores.

Press kit for the book launch:

The full press statement and promotional materials on the book (including: sound bites in English and Afrikaans, a video that shares the story behind the book, digital versions of the book covers, and spreads from the book) can be downloaded here.

- The Otto Foundation Team



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