No School Like the Old School
I stood on the exact spot where the 6 year old version of me stood, 27 years ago. Back then, I was full of awe and undiagnosed anxiety because of the size of everything. The buildings were big. The quads were big. The other boys were scarily big.
Now the awe remained despite everything not being quite so big. The anxiety was also still there, but this time it was because I was about to read a story to 98 very excited Grade Ones.
Context: I was challenged by the National reading-for-enjoyment campaign Nal'ibali, to make a pledge to read to as many kids as possible on World Read Aloud Day on the 1st of February.
Having only two kids myself, I thought that going back to my old haunt at Wynberg Boys Junior School would be a great way to bump up my numbers.
Fortunately, they were happy to accommodate me and so I found myself in my old school hall standing in front of 98 seven year-olds, who were all waiting in anticipation for me to tell the story ("The Final Minute") that Nal'ibali had given to me to read.
I think it went okay. At least, my fellow Wynberg Boys seemed to have enjoyed my story telling!
I was really keen to be part of the World Read Aloud Day for a simple reason: reading and writing was (and actually continues to be) a total lifesaver for me. When I was sad or lonely, I had the worlds hidden in books to escape to. I made friendships because we loved the the same author or book. I still have some wonderful conversations with incredibly interesting people about writing.
And all that started because my parents valued reading to me, well before I could read myself. My dad was particularly enthusiastic in his renditions of old fairy tales - which made story time before bedtime EXTRA exciting.
We need to read to our children. We need to read to them loudly and proudly and with great vigour. We need to read to them in their home languages and other languages too. And we need to rejoice in every new word they learn to read for themselves.
Reading is fundamental. We could have the best tertiary education system in the world, but if we don't have 7,8 and 9 year-olds who love to read and write, we could very well find those colleges and universities to be very empty in our future.
So...who's ready for story time tonight?