Westville pupils smile for new book gifts

Imaan Bailey and Akho Mpunkunga reading their new book.

There were only happy faces in sight when Westville Primary pupils received a book titled Oaky the Brave Acorn from NGO Read to Rise on Friday February 24.

Up on their feet, shouting at the top of their lungs, the Grade 2 pupils were overwhelmed when meeting the character Oaky at the book launch.

The new children’s book is the third in the Oaky series of inspirational children’s stories written by social philosopher and poet Athol Williams, who is also a Westridge resident. The book is illustrated by Taryn Lock.

Mr Williams said Oaky the Brave Acorn is a fun story about an acorn who must take a huge leap of faith to give himself the chance to fulfil his destiny. “When it counts, Oaky proves himself to be a brave acorn. We deliver a fun, interactive session to inspire children to read. We believe that book ownership is important in igniting a child’s love for reading so we give a brand- new book to each learner to take home,” he said.

To date, the organisation has conducted their programmes in over 870 classrooms and given out over 53 000 new books to pupils in Mitchell’s Plain and Soweto in Johannesburg.

The organisation works with all 45 primary schools in Mitchell’s Plain. Ms Lock said this year Read to Rise will offer four different classroom programmes. It will include Oaky the Brave Acorn, Oaky and the Sun and Oaky the Happy Tree and the fourth Oaky book will be launched in May.

Ms Lock said last year the organisation conducted their programme in every Grade 2 and 3 class in Mitchell’s Plain. There were a total of 350 class programmes and over 14 000 new books were given out.

“This year, we will conduct two class programmes per grade as we believe that more interactions with the learners will help to inspire them to read – hence 700 class programmes will be conducted and over 28 000 new books will be given out,” she said.

When asked what keeps them motivated, Ms Lock said: “The smiles on the children’s faces when you tell them that it is their book to take home. It is priceless. The appreciation keeps us inspired.”

Mr Williams responded that instilling the enjoyment of reading brings him great joy. “Reading is important, it develops the mind and opens doors to opportunities.”

Mr Williams was recently named LeadSA Hero for January 2017.

To assist or sponsor books, visit www.readtorise.org. Read to Rise also sells the Oaky books – for each book that is sold, a new book is given to a child in need. Email info@readtorise.co.za for more information.

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