In May 2023, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) released its 2021 reading study results which revealed that 81% of South Africa’s Grade 4 children could not read for meaning in any language, almost the same proportion as in 2011. The child literacy rate observed by PIRLS in 2011 was 82% and 78% in 2016. This therefore suggests that 8 out of 10 children struggle to understand written text in any of South Africa’s 11 official languages.

To lend a helping hand in improving the reading abilities of local children, Mogale City Library Services recently took the Born To Read programme to the community of Kromdraai paying special attention to expecting and new mothers as well as Early Childhood Development Centres.

Intended to encourage mothers to introduce the culture of reading to their children while still in the womb, the programme also aims to promote early childhood literacy and language development, while helping new parents understand their critical role as their child’s first and most important teacher. Mogale City Senior Librarian Tania Kgoale explained how this practise helps children adopt the culture of reading even after birth. “It matters not how old your child is, but the sooner you start teaching them to read the better. Education is key and we must start believing in our children’s future,” Kgoale added.

Cildren together with expectant mothers in attendance were motivated to use public libraries provided to them by the municipality instead of spending too much time on gadgets and television.