World Book Day - 23 April 2013
Bibionef Celebrates World book Day with Irista Primary School
Here’s a leading question. What did you do to celebrate April the 23rd? Why? Well, some of us would consider a loyalty to St George’s Day. But equally important: it is the day and month of both the birth and death of William Shakespeare. It is for that reason that it has been declared World Book Day. There, that surprised some of you!
I spent the morning most happily accompanying Jean Williams of Biblionef SA to two schools. First to the Mfuleni Educare Centre (the other side of the N2 from Khayelitsha) where she handed over boxes of new books and toys to every class in that pre-primary school. They were paid for by a donation from “Wings of Support”, a remarkable charity set up by the flying crew and cabin staff of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. In gratitude, the very small children of Mfuleni sang (in English and Xhosa) more songs than I think I ever knew at one time! That was just the appetiser.
We then drove on to Irista Primary School in Kuils River where we were politely welcomed by the head boy and girl and then escorted to their library. This in itself is unusual, as it puts them amongst the 7% of schools in South Africa that possess a functioning library. Yes, 7%! What is more, Irista Primary built the library themselves out of funds they raised themselves. How’s that for initiative!
However, back in 2007 they were the proud owners of a brand new library – but the shelves were empty. That was when Biblionef SA came to the rescue and donated … I can’t remember how many books, but it was pretty impressive.
Today, to celebrate World Book Day, Biblionef came up with an equally inspired idea. With the sponsorship of Via Afrika Publishers, they handed over 1,190 books – in other words, a book for every child in the school.
The school thanked Jean Williams of Biblionef, they thanked Mrs Watson of Via Afrika, they even thanked Mr Jay Heale, author, aged 75 who had nothing to do with it and had just come along to join in the fun. They also sang for us with great vigour, though only one song. We then visited many classrooms of Irista Primary: in each one every single child was holding a brand-new book with a look of amazement and rapture.
So that’s what I did on World Book Day. (Oh, and as soon as I arrived home, I made arrangements to send one of my own books in the direction of Irista Primary.) What did you do? In case it passed you by, why not make a note now that on the next World Book Day, April the 23rd, 2014, you are going to give a book to a child in South Africa? In fact, just in case you forget, why not give one today?
Freelance reviewer specialising in youth literature from South Africa and around the world. Editor of www.bookchat.co.za