Reading project set to change children's lives
I WATCH my youngest daughter learning to read, her lips framing individual letters until she is confident enough to say the word out loud. Slowly, she pulls together words until she has completed a sentence.
Then I praise her and, sometimes, I feel the warmth of an unbidden tear sliding down my cheek because it feels as if I am watching a miracle.
I see myself in my little girl and wait for the day that she, like her big sister, will just read - without forming letters into words, without even being conscious that she is, indeed, reading.
Sometimes, as I watch my children, memories of my father come visiting because he taught me about loving language and loving books. Our Cape Flats home was poor, but we always had books - secondhand books and ones from the public library.
Once a week, my siblings and I would fight over plastic carrier bags for our books, scrub our hands and walk down the road to the local library. The librarians were so strict, they'd inspect our hands before they allowed us anywhere near the books.
But having passed the clean hands test, we'd disappear into our different sections, only to reunite to walk back home.
For an incredibly shy child with no social graces, books became an enduring friend who could not disappoint me.
I borrowed my dad's Louis l'Amour and JT Edson novels and escaped into America's old West.
I got to know Biggles and Horatio Hornblower - the kind of fiction that enthralled British boys.
More than a decade after his death, I still remember the stack of books next to my dad's side of the bed, the trips to Robin's Nest in Plumstead for secondhand comics, along with Tintin and Asterix adventures.
And, I wish he was still around so that he could introduce my girls to Hergé's Captain Haddock, Thompson and Thompson, Professor Calculus from Tintin.
It is this deep and abiding love for language and reading which, I think, has deeply influenced the career I eventually chose.
It is for this reason that, as editor of The Times, I am so extremely proud to announce the launch of our Nal'ibali reading campaign.
From tomorrow, we will publish a bilingual supplement that will appear every week during the school term. It will contain stories and story-related activities to help grow a love for reading across South Africa.
Hopefully, it will encourage our readers to start reading clubs in their communities and spread the magic of story-telling and reading. We are sure you will find value in these supplements.
For more information on the amazing work of Nal'ibali, go to www.nalibali.org, and see how you can change the lives of children.