National call for the development of a Charter Of Children’s Literacy Rights

DSC_1032This International Literacy Day, the Nal’ibali reading for enjoyment campaign, is calling on everyone in South Africa – children, moms, dads, grandparents, caregivers, librarians, teachers, fellow literacy organisations, reading clubs and communities – to help shape a Charter of Children’s Literacy Rights to honour and guide our children’s right to literacy.

A love of stories is a universal characteristic of childhood and a foundation of literacy. Yet many children continue to miss out on informal, regular and pleasurable encounters with stories, books and reading, particularly in their home languages.

“These seemingly natural encounters with stories and people who share them are as vital for literacy learning as the more technical aspects such as how to sound out and form letters, blend these into words, write neatly, learn to spell and to do grammar,” says Carole Bloch, director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa – a founding partner of the Nal’ibali campaign with twenty years of literacy work in multilingual settings.

The Charter aims to not only put the spotlight on literacy as a human right, but to state clearly and simply the conditions and resources that need to be in place to ensure that all children in South Africa have fair access to this right. The public – as well as Nal’ibali’s partner organisations and NGOs working in the field of literacy development – will be asked to share what they think our children need to become fully literate citizens.

Nal’ibali’s network of Cluster Mentors and Story Sparkers (representatives of the campaign directly supporting 85 reading clubs that reach scores of children each week across six provinces) will also be gathering suggestions and ideas from the communities, reading clubs, parents, teachers and volunteers they work with to ensure the Charter is as inclusive and accessible as possible.

In addition, children themselves will be invited to submit their ideas, in order that we take into account their voices and perspectives for creating the conditions across South Africa that inspire and sustain reading-for-enjoyment practices in a variety of settings. The final Charter will be released early in 2014.

Examples of possible children’s reading rights:

  • All children have the right of access to a wide variety of books and other reading material in their home languages and additional languages.
  • All children have a right to teaching and a reading curriculum that makes meaningful use of their home language skills and inspires them to want to be readers.
  • Children have the right to be read to regularly for enjoyment by the adults in their lives.

To be involved:

You are invited to submit your ideas via the Nal’ibali website, mobisite and social media platforms by October 18. Alternatively post them to Nal’ibali, PRAESA, UCT, Private Bag, Rondebosch, 7701, or email them to For more information visit the Nal’ibali website:; the Nal’ibali mobi site:; the Nal’ibali Facebook page:; and the Nal’ibali Twitter feed: @nalibaliSA.

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