It has been over four months since we entered a lockdown during which, schools reopened and closed again due to the outbreak of coronavirus. It is during this time as well, that children have had to adjust to a new normal of online learning, social distancing and movement limited by the size of the yard. Parents, most of them working from home, have had to balance their work, care and self-care commitments whist also searching for new ways to engage with their children.
A number of online reading sessions by public figures, celebrities and authors provided the welcome respite to those looking to keep their children entertained. No one probably thought as far as National Book Week, whose online storytelling sessions continue to this day and present South Africans with alternative viewing experience with live storytelling of English classics and folklore in indigenous languages.
Books Beyond Words, the weekly event hosted by South Africa’s annual reading awareness week, National Book Week (NBW), dedicated to encouraging leisure reading and promoting the importance of books, has been inviting storytellers every weekend, uninterrupted, since the lockdown began in March, for a live event to tell children an interesting story.
NBW is a joint initiative of the South African Book Development Council (SABDC) and The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.
“In traditional households, the storyteller’s role is proudly held by the elders who weave a rich tapestry of lived experiences through oral stories. They pass on the stories they learnt from their elders to children who will carry this ancient tradition into the future. At National Book Week, which is held every year in September, we host these sessions with a live audience. The pandemic prompted NBW to look for alternatives like online storytelling,” says Elitha van der Sandt, CEO, South African Book Development Council.
“We wanted to introduce something that was functional, scalable and had longevity. The storytelling sessions keep the children engaged and at the same time pass on valuable life lessons. We want the children to learn and assimilate the traditional value systems from these stories. It is also a precursor to other virtual events we have planned for NBW’s new decade.”
Thanduxolo Mkhoyi is back this weekend with another fun story in isiXhosa, Isela lamavumba (The Smell Thief). The story is about a well-known baker who wakes up every morning to bake delicious bread for people who queue to buy it every day. An old woman who could no longer afford to buy the bread still wakes up every morning just to smell the bread.
Another favourite of NBW family Malefu Mahloane brings an English story this time titled Who are you? The story is about an orphaned lion cub that is adopted by a family of sheep and as a result, starts to behave like one. Will the cub ever learn the truth?
Join us once again as we reveal the secrets on Saturday 01 August 2020 at 11:00am on NBW’s Facebook page.