This article documents a reading and writing promotion project amongst learners
attending under-privileged schools with Afrikaans as medium of instruction in the West
and Eastern Cape. The premise of this study was that reading and writing should be fun
and that books created for children should be reader centred. Learners were asked to take
part in a voluntary writing competition which entailed writing down a joke or a riddle.
These were selected and compiled in an economically produced booklet that the learners
could buy at a nominal price.
Feedback from both the learners and teachers at participating schools revealed the
booklet to be a great success. Two main factors that contributed to this success were:
participation, i.e. the fact that the readers were part of the project which empowered them
and fostered a sense of self-worth; and the fact that they could identify with the book in
terms of the language used and the circumstances portrayed in the book. The popularity
of the book in terms of sales showed that even children with very little money will buy
books that interest them.
As this was a pilot project, the long-term advantages of the project cannot be predicted.
However, the immediate effect of the project was visibly positive and could provide
guidelines for the planning of similar reading promotion projects in the future.