Systematic’s Joy of Reading Award sponsors books for mobile libraries in South Africa

From her colourful tuk-tuk, Sinothando hands out books to South African children. Many of these books are bought with the money prize from Systematic’s Joy of Reading Award that went to the South African reading campaign Nal’ibali in 2019. Watch the video to see Sinothando spread the joy of reading.

25 October 2019

Armed with books and lots of enthusiasm, Sinothando Menzi travels around Western Cape, South Africa, in a colourful tuk-tuk that doubles as a mobile library. People greet her in the street as she passes and children flock to the tuk-tuk when she stops to distribute books in the local language. This way, people who live far away from traditional libraries are given access to books and other reading materials in their mother tongue.

Across South Africa, there are more tuk-tuks like the one Sinothando manages. They are part of the Story Power in Motion project by the South African reading campaign Nal‘ibali. Nal’ibali also arranges reading clubs for children and distributes stories in eight different languages to South African schools and NGO-partners.

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 Nal’ibali is a welcome initiative as South Africa has 11 official languages and many South Africans have scarce access to books in their native language. This has implications for the reading proficiency among children in South Africa. According to a 2017 study, eight out of 10 South African fourth grade pupils cannot read at an appropriate level in any language.

Nal’ibali addresses these problems which is why the campaign won this year’s Joy of Reading Award. The award is sponsored by Systematic and celebrates initiatives that fight illiteracy and encourage people to read. It comes with a $10.000 cash money prize that Nal‘ibali has spent on books for the tuk-tuks.

“My role is not only to provide books like the library does, but to engage people in different games and to allow people to tell me their stories about the books they have read so they can take some more books from my mobile library,” Sinothando says of her job in the Story Power in Motion project.

Watch the video to learn more about Nal’ibali and to hear Sinothando talk about the joy of handing out books in Western Cape.


 Read more about Systematic’s Joy of Reading Award here.