World Read Aloud Day 2020: close to three million children reached

16 March 2020 - 11:47
Children at the Es'kia Mphahlele Community Library revel in a new story and the day's events.
Children at the Es'kia Mphahlele Community Library revel in a new story and the day's events.
Image: Supplied

This year, Nal’ibali, SA’s reading-for-enjoyment campaign, set a target to read aloud to two million children on World Read Aloud Day on February 5. Issuing a special story in all 11 official languages and calling on the support of South Africans everywhere, the campaign has announced that close to three million children were read to.

World Read Aloud Day is a global event to draw attention to the importance of reading aloud to children in their mother tongue. Nal’ibali leads the initiative in SA, raising awareness about the country's literacy crisis and how caregivers, whether at home, school or in the community, can help overcome it through the simple yet effective action of reading aloud. 

Research has shown that reading aloud is a powerful way to motivate children to learn to read and to keep those who can read, reading.

Having celebrated the day for the past seven years, Nal’ibali has seen the number children reached each year increase exponentially. Last year 1,559,730 children were read to and this year that number almost doubled to 2,925,224.  Easily supported, the drive is taken up annually by citizens, celebrities, education departments, library services and other NGOs, who all hold special read-aloud events across the country.

Says Nal’ibali COO Katie Huston: “I’ve attended many different World Read Aloud Day events over the years and the one thing they all have in common is excitement. Children love the chance to immerse themselves in something, and they love the vibe that comes with a special day and sense of occasion.” 

Huston further explained that to change SA’s reading culture, the way South Africans think and talk about reading has to change, but that reaching 2,925,224 children, or one in seven South African children, is a powerful indicator that this shift is starting to take place. She encouraged those who took part in the drive to continue to visit the Nal’ibali website for more stories in different South African languages and to continue to share these with the children in their lives.

For more information about the Nal’ibali campaign, to sign up to be a FUNda Leader and join the FUNda Sonke loyalty programme, or to access children’s stories in a range of South African languages, visit and You can also find Nal’ibali on Facebook and Twitter: @nalibaliSA.