Children’s book by Zukiswa Wanner is translated into all 11 official SA languages.

A children’s story by author Zukiswa Wanner has been translated into all 11 official South African languages for 2018 World Read Aloud Day, in a Nal’ibali initiative.

Since 2013, Nal’ibali, a national organisation that encourages reading for enjoyment, has invited South Africans to join in the global World Read Aloud Day campaign.

Wanner says:

As 2017 wound down, South Africa heard news that broke our collective hearts. A report by Progress in International Literacy Study (PIRLS) alerted us that, in case you missed it, 78 percent of South African fourth graders cannot read for meaning in any language. This, despite education being one of the ministries that consistently gets a bigger chunk of the national budget annually. So where are we going wrong? […]

The aim this year is to have at least a million children participating in World Read Aloud Day.

I ask all public figures, educators, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and all South Africans of goodwill, to take some time from their day on 1 February to commit to reading aloud to the children in their lives. Illiteracy will not end through taking part in the campaign, but it is a good way to start reducing it. More so, if those of us who take part in World Read Aloud Day commit to do it more frequently.

Source: Nal’ibali

Nal’ibali provides free multilingual reading materials for children on their website, and encourages the formation of reading clubs throughout the country.

Wanner, who is based in Kenya, will be coming home for World Read Aloud Day on 1 February to read her story to 1,000 children….

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To join Nal’ibali’s World Read Aloud Day celebration, visit or, where you can download the special story and pledge the number of children to whom you will be reading it.

Share pictures of your read-aloud sessions on the campaign’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, using the hashtag #WRADChallenge2018, on the day.

Interview with Nal’ibali’s 2018 World Read Aloud Day author.

There is no doubt that Zukiswa Wanner is one of South Africa’s most talented authors and storytellers. Her debut novel, The Madam, was published in 2006 and since then Zukiswa has remained relevant and one of the most important voices of our time.

This year’s World Read Aloud Day story, ‘The Final Minute‘ was written by Zukiswa. She will also be the storyteller at the official World Read Aloud Day event taking place in Mofolo Stadium in Johannesburg on 1 February 2018.

So, what does Zukiswa think about the power of reading aloud to children?

1. Do you think it’s important for children to be read to in a language they understand, such as their mother tongue?

Absolutely. I think the more languages children can speak, the more empowering it is. And of course mother tongue in particular helps them understand certain nuances pertaining to their selves.

2. As a writer and novelist, do you think the literary landscape in South Africa currently embraces and promotes the writing and reading of books in a variety of South African languages?

Unfortunately not. And a lot of this has much to do with power relations in South Africa. While black people are running government, economy, including the publishing economy, is largely in non-black hands and those tend to have the dominant narrative. And the dominant narrative is that black people do not read OR buy books so therefore there is no need to make books in their languages available. Where books are available in other languages that are not English or Afrikaans, they are usually only ever used as coursework for schools or availed from direct orders to the publisher. As an example, my children’s book Refilwe has been translated into other languages beyond English and yet if one is lucky enough to find any copies of it in bookstores, it’s usually just the English version.


3. How did your love of reading and writing come about?

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