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World book dayIn a nationwide campaign 'Be smart, read books' posters are distributed to schools and public libraries21 April 2014 – World Book Day promotes reading, publishing and copyright annually on 23 April. In South Africa the 2014 World Book Day will be celebrated with a door-to-door campaign and festivities in the Northern Cape. The national reading for enjoyment campaign Nal'ibali will launch the Children's Literacy Charter.

The date of 23 April was chosen in 1995 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to also celebrate the anniversaries of the deaths of William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. In a message by Director-General Ms Irina Bokova, UNESCO calls on everyone to celebrate books as the embodiment of human creativity and the desire to share ideas and knowledge, to inspire understanding and tolerance.

That books are not immune from change is clear from the advent of digital formats and the transition to open licensing for knowledge-sharing. According to UNESCO this creates both opportunities for innovative business models as well as debates about copyright and open access in the digital area.

The organisation works in various projects to promote literacy and mobile learning and advancing Open Access to scientific knowledge and educational resources. In partnership with Nokia and Worldreader, UNESCO strives to harness mobile technology to support literacy. On 23 April a new publication: Reading in the Mobile Era will be released.

Taking effect on World Book Day, Port Harcourt in Nigeria has been named as the 2014 World Book Capital, on account of the quality of its programme, in particular its focus on youth and the impact it will have on improving Nigeria's culture of books, reading, writing and publishing to improve literacy rates.


Book festivities in South Africa

The World Book Day celebrations in South Africa are coordinated by the Centre for the Book, the outreach unit of the National Library of South Africa. The organisation aims to: 

  • raise awareness about the importance of reading
  • reach out and give people access to books
  • educate people to take care for their library facilities
  • celebrate books

The Centre coordinates a nationwide poster campaign involving schools, libraries and bookshops and encourages events all over South Africa. This year's World Book Day celebrations will be held in Kuruman, Northern Cape in a two day programme event in collaboration with the Northern Cape province and the JTG district municipality and Ga-Segonyana municipality. This year's theme is 'Be smart, read books'.

The celebrations start on 22 April with the Door to Door Reading Campaign where books will be donated to schools and households in the area. The campaigners will march together with local celebrities and will be accompanied by a vibrant brass band. Traffic officials will make sure that the campaigners are safe.

On the second day, 23 April, Deputy National Minister of Arts and Culture Dr Phaahla and other invitees will speak about the importance of reading and the history of celebrating the books in general. Reading activities, traditional dance and plays will celebrate books. School children are invited to attend the event to encourage their attitude towards reading. The Northern Cape Premier Ms Sylvia Lucas is among the list of guests expected to participate on this event.

For more information please visit the website for the Northern Cape department of Sports, Arts & Culture.

In the Centre for the Book nationwide poster campaign, 30 000 special posters have been designed, printed and distributed with the assistance of strategic partners such as South African Booksellers' Association (SABA), Paarl Media and On the Dot. The posters are provided to schools and public libraries around the country and can also be viewed and  downloaded here (PDF, 2.2 MB).


Children's literacy charter

nalibali charteriThe Nal'ibali Charter highlights the range of literacy experiences all children should have to best enable them to learn to read and writeNal'ibali, the national reading-for-enjoyment campaign, will launch a Charter on Children's Literacy Rights on World Book Day. The charter, freely available in all 11 official South African languages as a poster or download, highlights the range of literacy experiences all children should have to best enable them to learn to read and write. It is also a guide for adults, who are their children's first teachers, to do what they can to put the conditions and resources in place to ensure all children have equal access to their right to become fully literate citizens.

"Literacy is the foundation of education and a significant gateway to opportunities for success and fulfilment as an adult in the modern world," comments Carole Bloch, director of the Project for the Study of Alternative Education in South Africa, PRAESA , a driving partner in the Nal'ibali campaign.

"We hope to place a copy of the charter in every classroom, library, staffroom, office and home," says Bloch. "It's wonderful that we can offer it in all 11 languages. We're asking everyone to read it, discuss it widely and plan how to act on it. The charter outlines the kind of nurturing role we have to rise to as adults to support children into a culture of reading and writing. It's a challenge to join Nal'ibali and get reading and writing, no matter what age you are!" she concludes.

The organisation has begun delivering copies to more than 130 reading clubs which form part of the Nal'ibali network of reading clubs across the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State and the Western Cape provinces. Nal'ibali Cluster Mentors and Story Sparkers driving the campaign on the ground will also be handing out posters at specially-planned parent meetings, where community-initiated strategies for supporting the rights in the children's charter will be discussed along with practical ways to deepen community literacy practices in partnership with local stakeholders.

Other Nal'ibali partners including Biblionef, National Professional Teacher's Organisation of South Africa (NAPTOSA), LIASA, Van Schaik, the Centre for the Book, SA Booksellers and The Bookery will assist in circulating the poster.

Download a copy of the poster in the language of your choice below, or email to request a poster of the Charter for your reading programme, NGO or school.

Download the Children's Literacy Charter in


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