The South African Book Development Council (SABDC) and various local organisations championing the cause of reading for leisure will be taking to social media today i.e. on World Book Day to engage South Africans on the importance of reading. A new social media campaign #readbecause is being launched to encourage book lovers to share why they read.


The initiative aims to highlight the importance of reading for leisure and is part of the campaign to celebrate the 10th anniversary of National Book Week.


Literacy organisations responding to the growing challenge of reading and writing proficiency levels amongst South Africans such as, FunDza Literacy TrustNal’ibali, the Library Information Association of South AfricaNational Library of South Africa, the Publishers Association of South AfricaProject Literacy and Van Schaik Bookstores will take to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share stories of why they read and encourage South Africans to share their #readbecause and to challenge perceptions around reading and books.


South Africans everywhere can participate in the conversation using #readbecause when it launches at 12:00 noon.


“The primary aim of #readbecause is to showcase unity of purpose among the multitude of organisations who work towards promoting a reading culture in South Africa and to encourage more people to realise the value of reading,” says Elitha van der Sandt, CEO, South African Book Development Council.


The national #readbecause campaign was born out of the need for a collaborative approach towards encouraging the culture of reading for leisure in SA.


“There are diverse organisations implementing their own programmes and making exceptional strides. However, by working together we believe we will be able to  respond more effectively to the challenges,” adds van der Sandt.


In late 2018 the various organisations came together to collectively reconsider the way they approach reading promotion and as a result, a stronger push to promote the importance and value of the book was instituted. The campaign aims to use available platforms such as social media and physical spaces like libraries and reading clubs to create a movement that reaffirms the value of reading for leisure as it has a direct correlation to growth and success.


Books contain many words that children are unlikely to encounter in frequently spoken language. According to the 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls),  78% of Grade 4 learners are unable to read for comprehension in any language, Children who know adults who read for pleasure develop an affinity for reading and appreciate it as an activity, while being told stories in any language, is known to feed a child’s imagination and contributes to the development of abstract thought.  


“#readbecause is a direct response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s call for a reading revolution and the SABDC and partner organisations are happy to lend a helping hand,” van der Sandt says in conclusion.

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