The Gift of Books

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Today marks the beginning of National Book Week -- a week long event that's put together by the Department of Arts and Culture in association with the SA Book Development Council. This event takes place every first week of September and coincides with International Literacy week on the 8th of September.

We all know that our education system is in a bad way, so are our literacy levels. With only 14% of South Africans said to be book readers, weeks like this one are a great opportunity to introduce the benefits of reading. It's also a great way to encourage a culture of reading. Here are some of my ideas on what you can do, where you are to commemorate National Book Week:

1. Public Library Reading Hour

Organise a reading hour with your local library at which you help young children read. Five hours over a course of five days isn't much. Pick a book that can be read over the course of the week. On the last day, allow the children to discuss the lessons they've learnt from the book. What they enjoyed about the story and what they would change about it. The beauty of words and the world of book is mostly sharing experiences because let's face it, no two people will get the same feelings from the same book.

2. Host a Short Story Writing Workshop

National Book Week is also about encouraging people to enter the publishing industry and produce great and authentically South African and African stories. A week-long creative writing workshop at your local high school or library for interested individuals that covers characters, plots and the basic principles of writing would also benefit many. Who knows, you might discover the next Zakes Mda.

3. Give the Gift of Books

Put your favourite books together, stories that changed your life and shaped your view on the world. Pick up used books and ask friends to contribute their favourites as well and donate that library box to a community centre or any other education-centric organisation.

These aren't only for this week, they can be done on any day of the year. Words are a beautiful thing and sharing the gift of the worlds and forevers  that can be found in books is one of the greatest gifts can give to anyone. For more information on this year's programmes and activities visit the SABDC's website.

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