Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa

by Thanda UK
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa
Holistic Support to Children in Rural South Africa

Project Report | Jan 9, 2024
Books to Borrow, Books to Keep

By Candice McGregor | Reports and Communications Manager

Children enjoying a book reading at Thanda Library
Children enjoying a book reading at Thanda Library

Children’s storybooks play an important part of every child’s education. Research shows that owning books is a key factor in holistic early development and lifelong academic and economic success and the effect of owning books outweighs a child’s socio-economic status and is equaled only by parents’ level of education. Books provide language, sound practice and learning. They immerse children in make-believe worlds, helping them extend their imaginations and encouraging empathy through journeying with the storybook characters.

Thanda’s curriculum has always been centered around storybooks and the lessons and themes that can be drawn from them. Our Thanda library, from which children can borrow books, is a much-loved aspect of our community centre (it is also the only library in the entire municipality) and it is open to all, not only those enrolled in Thanda programmes. In the second half of 2023 our library benefitted from a much-needed update to include some digital elements. We then visited local primary and high schools to explain to them what the upgrades entailed and in the three weeks directly after this, our usually moderately busy little library saw an incredible uptick of 489 visitors during this time to borrow books and conduct research for their homework.

Borrowing books is beneficial as it gives children access to so many different stories. It allows them to read and absorb a vast array of content in a given month or year. For the period January – November 2023 our librarians recorded 11,289 books borrowed.

While the positive impact of having access to books to borrow is priceless, it is also important for a child to have their own books to keep. Research shows that children who have a book of their own are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age, than those who don’t own a book. (National Literacy Trust, 2017). In addition, having books in the home gives children a measurable advantage at school, equal to 3.2 more years of schooling, even when controlled for other key factors such as income and parents’ education. (Evans et al, 2010.) Finally, access to books impacts positively on the reading achievement of economically disadvantaged children. (Newman, S. et al, 2000).

This is why we hold our Learning at Home Programme in such high esteem. The programme gives children a new book to take home and keep, adding to their very own home library each month. The books form part of the activity packs they receive as participants of the Learning at Home Programme. They are carefully selected from the vast collection of BookDash titles, which are high-quality and locally produced books, meaning that they are relevant to the South African context, allowing children to see themselves, their homes and their families in the stories.

For the period January – November 2023 we distributed 3,555 Learning at Home packs (BookDash books included) to our beneficiaries.

Learning at Home packs have different activities and discussion points pitched at different levels so that they cater to various age groups within one pack. This means that, while the theme centres around one book, older children and younger children in the same household can participate in the pack activities. It also allows older children in the household who are able to read to participate in the Learning at Home packs and lead the younger members in their activities, strengthening the relationships between siblings, cousins, friends and neighbours, while learning valuable socio-emotional, language and numeracy skills at the same time.

One of the most enjoyed books distributed in 2023 was Katiti’s song. This book is adapted from a traditional story and it centres around a little girl who plays in the forest every day and, when it is time to go home, her mom sings to guide her home. One day a scary gorilla mimics her mother’s voice to try to lure her to him so that he can eat her.

Using the storybook as a vehicle, this Learning at Home pack helped children explore the concepts of support and comfort. Discussion questions pushed them think about different kinds of people in the world and how their intentions might not always be clear from their actions and might be dangerous. While children should explore and enjoy the world it is important that they are not naïve and that they think critically about the behavior and actions of those around them. There are many untrustworthy people in the world and many tough situations to navigate (people tempting them with drugs or targeting them with bullying or social media telling them that they are not good enough) and they need to be wary of these situations, develop a strong sense of self and trust the guidance of the guardians and mentors in their lives who they know have their best interests at heart so that they don’t get caught up in undesirable situations.

Nelisiwe, a single mother to 6 children shares that her children absolutely LOVE receiving books to bring home and keep “With Nomfundo (older child), she used to come back from school and go play outside. Now Nomfundo comes back from school, washes her socks, has something to eat and pulls out some of her books or some of Hlelo’s (youngest child – ECD participant) books and they read together. Oh, Hlelo loves it when Nomfundo reads to her and I also do but I try to give them space to bond together and read. They even imitate being a teacher and learner so they play and learn at the same time.”

Nomfundo (Grade 5) Thandukwazi participant confirms that she loves all the BookDash titles that the children have received, and that they regularly read together. From making music together with Tikky Boom Tish to learning about vegetables through Grandpa Farouk’s Garden. “When I grow up I want to be a teacher. I want to be a teacher because you get to have many books and give people knowledge that they did not know before.”

Books are essential to a child’s education and we are grateful to funders who share this vision with us and whose donations enable us to provide storybooks (to keep!) for the children in our community.

Library time on the weekend
Library time on the weekend
Distribution Day for Katiti's Song at Thandukwazi
Distribution Day for Katiti's Song at Thandukwazi
ECD children reading their new books right away
ECD children reading their new books right away
Nomfundo and Hlelo
Nomfundo and Hlelo
Nelisiwe and Hlelo
Nelisiwe and Hlelo
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Organization Information

Thanda UK

Location: London - United Kingdom
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @thandaproject
Project Leader:
Candice McGregor
London , United Kingdom
$11,414 raised of $35,000 goal
 
122 donations
$23,586 to go
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