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Van vuuren communal reading as a way to foster a reading culture

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  • 1. COMMUNAL READING AS A WAY TO FOSTER A READING CULTURE The One Book One Library Project at the University of Johannesburg
  • 2. Overview Books can be dangerous. T he best ones should be labeled "This could change your life." ~Helen Exley  Reading and literacy in South Africa  Reading culture in South Africa  The One Book communal reading movement  The One Book One Library project at the University of Johannesburg  History of UJ  Student profile  Results of the project
  • 3. Literacy and reading in South Africa Reading maketh a full man. -Essays (1625) by Francis Bacon  Adult literacy rate = 88%  Grade 4 and 5 learners last in PIRLS study  Impact of multilingualism  Not enough attention to reading for enjoyment in schools  The DoE National Reading Strategy  Includes encouraging reading for enjoyment
  • 4. Reading culture in South Africa Take up and read, take up and read!. - Confessions (397) by Saint Augustine  Outcomes of survey of reading habits of adult South Africans (South African Book Development Council, 2007)  Prefer to read newspapers and magazines  Read for knowledge, not leisure  Majority of the South African population are infrequent readers
  • 5. Impact of owning books When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.- Desiderius Erasmus  Evans et al: Family scholarly culture and educational success: books and schooling in 27 nations (including South Africa)  More than 500 books in the home gives a child a big advantage  Mean number of leisure books in South African households = 8  Median = 32  More than half of South Africa’s households have no books
  • 6. Role of libraries The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.- Abraham Lincoln  Access to books through libraries  Only 8% of schools have a functional library  Community (public) libraries trying to bridge the gap  Academic libraries focus on curriculum related reading  Reading circles study groups and book clubs  Jozi Book Fair http://www.jozibookfair.org.za/
  • 7. The One Book communal reading movement  Initiated by Nancy Pearl, executive director of the Washington Center for the Book, Seattle Public Library, 1998  Read the same book at the same time  Activities related to theme  Involve author  ALA Manual  http://www.ala.org/publicprograms
  • 8. The One Book One Library Project at University of Johannesburg It is wonderful that even today, with all the competition of radio, television, films and records, the book has kept its precious character. A book is somehow precious.- John Steinbeck  “A final challenge: How do we get students to read books and not merely surf the internet? How do we get them to read wider than prescribed books? There is a world out there waiting to be discovered”.  One Book One Library to promote reading for pleasure and involve all campus libraries
  • 9. UJ is a Comprehensive University … an institution that bring diverse kinds of learning programmes , from vocational to professional and general formative, under one roof. Gibbon, 2004:42  Born out of the merger of three very different institutions  One of six ‘comprehensive’ universities in South Africa  50% of all students are first generation at university  Low level of reading and writing skills  Do not buy textbooks, let alone books for recreational reading
  • 10. How to… I cannot live without books - Thomas Jefferson  Used ALA Manual “Planning your Community Wide Read” http://www.ala.org/publicprogra ms  Committee with campus library reps  Nominated titles – involved Department of English  Committee did final selection
  • 11. Selection criteria A little learning, indeed, may be a dangerous thing, but the want of learning is a calamity to any people. - Frederick Douglass  Good literature and easy to read (language should be understandable for wide audience)  Have a strong message  South African author  Theme should be of interest to a diverse audience  Fiction or non-fiction
  • 12. And we read…  2009 – Three-letter Plague by Jonny Steinberg A groundbreaking work of reportage about pride and shame, sex and death, Three- letter Plague sheds new light on the place the African AIDS pandemic has come to occupy  2010 – Black Diamond by Zakes Mda The concept of achieving black diamond status is well known in post apartheid South Africa and in this satirical work the author tackles this and every other conceivable South African stereotype, skillfully (and with the lightest touch) turning them upside down and exposing their ironies.  Both award winning South African
  • 13. Reading process Jonny Steinberg Zakes Mda  Two to three months reading period  Book displays in campus libraries  Reading guides  Arrange for interaction with author  Steinberg - Blog with the author  Mda - Facebook group (83 members) and visit to lead discussion groups. http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=11780641 4916578#!/group.php?gid=117806414916578&v=w all  Discussion groups in all campus libraries  Invite people who have read the book by sms/email
  • 14. The Facebook Group Sorry for the belated thank you to all at UJ who made my visit such a resounding success. I had a wonderful time and enjoyed interacting with your brilliant students, and everyone else. Zakes Mda 22 Sept 2010
  • 15. Participation  Number of copies- 177  Reading period – 2 months  Number or readers- 442  Discussion groups – 88 Book intimidating – 326 pages HIV/AIDS= emotional topic Author could not visit  Number of copies -211  Reading period – 3 months  Number of readers – 932  Discussion groups – 278 Book inviting - 207 pages Topic more light hearted Visit from immensely popular author 2009 Three-letter Plague 2010 Black Diamond
  • 16. As it happened… 2009 2010
  • 17. Wow,wow is all i can say.it was a great honour meeting him guys what a down to earth person. Pinky Sithole on the Facebook Group
  • 18. Budget This will never be a civilized country until we expend more money for books than we do for chewing gum. ~Elber t Hubbard  Can get started on small budget  R40 000 – R60 000  Buying copies of the selected title the greatest cost  Sell copies of selected books afterwards  Marketing costs  Author visit  Partners important. Faculty of Humanities helped finance the Mda visit  UJ will be seeking donors for 2011  We will design a logo for the project
  • 19. Is it worth it? It has increased my knowledge tremendously. I can never have the same attitude I used to have on HIV. Incredible (Female, undergraduate student, 2009). It cleared up some stereotypes that I had about South African culture. This is a truly South African story (Female undergraduate student, 2010)  Get to know students better  Makes library visible  Staff enjoy the project  It does impact on readers but it is a long term project

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