Nali’ibali and SAA and the gift of reading


story-power---textAn example of the billboards that Nal’ibali has put across the country as part of their literacy awareness campaign. (Image: Nal’ibali)

Keeping children entertained as you travel is a problem as old as time. South African Airways have partnered with the Nali’ibal campaign to promote reading and storytelling to kids as families head off on holidays.

All children on SAA flights will be given a specially created magazine with stories written by local authors, activities that make learning fun, and a challenging ‘reading passport’ designed to keep them stimulated and entertained through the holidays. The package is designed with activities for parents to share their love of reading and writing with their kids.

The magazine was developed by The Project for the Study of Alternative Education (PRAESA) and it this NGO driving the Nali’ibali campaign. The director, Dr Carole Bloch, explained, “We’ve called the magazine Story Power, as it links to our current awareness drive to inspire parents and caregivers to tell and read stories with their children at home.

“It might feel like the holidays are a time to put the stresses of schoolwork away, but rather than being stressful or tedious, reading is a pleasure and this is the perfect time for parents to show children they believe this. Children follow their parents’ lead and holidays allow time to show them the wonderful world of stories.”

SAA spokesperson, Tlali Tlali, said at the launch: “SAA’s corporate social investment initiatives are anchored on education and development. Focusing on children and younger learners through initiatives of this nature. Encouraging them to read more and write as often, plays a critical role in equipping them with the fundamentals of learning and development.

“For us, young people are the foundation of a talent pipeline we are building for the future, not only to benefit SAA, but the entire country. We are proud to be partnering with Nal’ibali and promoting their call to all South African adults to read to, and with their children, and thereby supporting their emotional and educational success.”

During the launch at O.R Tambo International Airport in Kempton Park, Captain Eric Manentsa, SAA’s Chief Pilot, shared a special storytelling morning with children from a Soweto Nal’ibali Reading Club.

Manentsa explained to the children how reading and writing helped him along his journey to where he is today, while Lebogang Mashile, a renowned poet and literacy activist gave a reading of King of the Birds, a folktale featured in the magazine.


In October Nal’ibali launched a new billboard campaign to generate awareness and discussion around the power of stories to spark all children’s potential.

More than 500 billboards have been erected around the country. The taglines translated into the predominant languages of the provinces and locations in which they are found. The billboards have also been transformed into short animated clips that will be aired daily until February 2015 in 10 taxi ranks across the country.

The campaign calls on parents or caregivers to be involved in children’s literacy and moves away from the perspective that it should only be done at school and in English only.

David Harrison, CEO of the DG Murray Trust, the primary funder of the Nal’ibali campaign, said: “Even if you can’t read, you can still tell stories to children. Stories spark those parts of their brains concerned with imagination, emotion, sensation and movement, and create the neural circuits that ultimately enable sophisticated thinking and reasoning.

“As research has shown, children who read for pleasure, perform better in the classroom, and not just in vocabulary and spelling, but also in Maths. And stories are a great way to get children interested in books and reading, starting from birth.”

Bloch said: “Many parents and primary caregivers don’t realise how important their teaching role is with their children – they feel it’s the responsibility of school to do all the teaching. Yet sharing stories, which all families can do, is an essential literacy learning building block.

“Families grow together through their stories, sharing things like values, life lessons, language and knowledge. By reading and sharing stories, a sense of continuity and shared culture happens in stress-free ways while children get to enjoy themselves with the adults they love.”