2022 was a big year for the Otto Foundation.
Pandemic restrictions were lifted, and our libraries operated at full capacity for the first time in two years. It meant we could capitalise on the benefits of reading unconstrained facial expressions and following words mouthed during read-aloud sessions. In-person author readings returned, adding a rich layer to children's experiences and how they relate to books and stories. The simple joy of sharing the pleasure of reading without restriction is a triumphant experience that we welcomed back with open arms.
We value that our libraries form part of larger school communities. So, as we continually strive to use our libraries to create value-adding opportunities for teachers and children, we started aligning our library programmes with the CAPS curriculum, led by an in-house curriculum expert.
Our family of libraries grew! We launched the Sunbird library at Chapel Street Primary - a calm, engaging and happy space.
"Reading for joy" underpins all of the work that we do. It is a thread that weaves through our programmes: every library display, grade-specific book review initiatives, our annual reading relay, writing- and Sonke Quiz competitions. In addition, it motivates us to find new and exciting ways to engage caretakers throughout the year with send-home prompts to continue conversations around books at home.
Children need reading role models. We continued our Book Buddy initiative (peer-to-peer learning), the Library Monitor programme (awarding keen readers with a leadership position), and adding teacher bookshelves.
We created and published the Reading Journey journal, a resource that encapsulates the belief that reading is an adventure and that books can take you places and unearth and highlight treasures of self-knowledge.
New, site-specific placemaking interventions added aesthetic and interactive value to our school environments.
Thank you to every child, teacher, librarian, principal, team member, donor, collaborator, visiting author and illustrator for your support this year. You helped mould this book and story-packed year and helped us advocate for the joy-filled value it can add to people's lives.
Onwards and Upwards!