Boost for books in 11 official languages

A selection of Ethnikids books that can be translated to your mother tongue.

A fast food restaurant at the Waterfront hosted a reading event on Thursday September 22, to celebrate Heritage Day which was commemorated over the weekend.

The aim was to promote diversity so Wimpy partnered with online children’s bookstore Ethnikids which specialises in children’s books that feature characters which are inclusive and diverse, and are published in all 11 official South African languages.

According to research conducted by Reading Panel – which is chaired by former deputy president of South Africa Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka – 78% of 10-year-old South African children cannot read for meaning in any language. And, it reports, at the current rate of progress, it will take 80 years before 95% of Grade 4s read for meaning.

The online bookstore was started by five moms, Mpho Maje and Precious Mdlalose who are originally from Johannesburg, Khumo Tapfumaneyi and Kgalalelo Nazo from Bloemfontein and Tina Boateng Akuoko from Umtata. Of the five moms Ms Boateng Akuoko and Ms Tapfumaneyi are still involved with the initiative.

Children in a reading session of one of the Ethnikids stories.

Educational psychologist Seago Maapola said choosing the right book for children is important.

“Literacy is not just an aspect that is taught at school but it also needs to be taught at home. Depending on the age and the development of the child, choosing the right book will be quite crucial.”

Ms Maapola added that it’s important to engage with children while reading. “Ask them questions about the character, who they identify with, what they think a certain character’s values are. Bring it to life; it shouldn’t be passive reading for the sake of reading. When we engage we make sure they read for meaning, that they understand.”

Ms Maapola also said that using the pitch in your voice helped children to engage more. “If it’s a lion, you’re going to make a roar and ask them to roar…using your voice helps them to stay engaged…that also helps with vocabulary and development.”

Educational psychologist Seago Maapola spoke to parents about the importance of reading.
One of the co-founders of Ethnikids, Tina Akuoko spoke about the books being in all 11 official languages.

Wimpy’s brand manager Jodi Law encouraged parents to get the Ethnikids books for their children. “Go out, get the book…the more people that find out about these books and the initiative…the more books we’re going to get in the hands of South African children it can only help them grow and understand who they are and where they come from.”