On your marks, get ready…let’s read!

The Grade Four winners at the Readathon Awards at Martin Primary were (from left) Joshua Botha, Ryan Feuth, Alexandra Sequeira and Skylar van Zyl.

“This is a tradition that has been going on for generations, well before my time, for as long as the school has been in existence,” said Hennie Theron, Martin Primary School principal.

The Readathon happens every year not just across the country, but also at this local school, where a week is dedicated to reading.

Children are encouraged to bring their favourite books to school.

At the end of the week, the school holds an award ceremony, which usually falls on the first day of spring.

On this day the school is all bright and colourful, as most children dress up as their favourite book character.

“’Today a reader, tomorrow a leader’ is our motto. We are and have always been a reading school. Our love for books is the main reason we promote reading every chance we get,” said Theron.

Winners dressed as their favourite book characters: Jordan Lee de Jager, Siyabonga Mask, Tasmiya Kidato, Luca Smith, Jordan Lee Ludick, Liam Preston, Sesihle Mdliva and Mikayla Palmer.

“We strongly believe basic learning starts with reading. At Martin Primary reading goes above and beyond Readathon week. It is a daily affair which is promoted and celebrated.

“Daily every child takes a book home to read. Children are motivated to read, especially when they know their efforts are not only recognised but celebrated too.

“This reading school recognises a child for every milestone reached. For every 50 books read, a child receives a reading card to say job well done.”

The alarming lack of opportunity for reading in South African schools is undeniable. The government can no longer deny that something needs to be done urgently in order to tackle this issue.

Grade Seven winners Declan Daniell and Abigail Gengadu.

Theron told the Advertiser, “The Department of Education has implemented a programme called Drop All and Read, where all South African schools are expected to drop whatever they are doing and pick up a book for 30 minutes once a week. The programme will be in full swing at the beginning of 2018 in Martin Primary School.”

“The focus on reading should without fail begin from Grade One and thereafter just keep pushing. The reading material must be relevant to children’s lives in order to get their attention and keep them interested in reading,” Theron stressed.

At Martin Primary School, reading serves different purposes. Academics is the main purpose, but reading also serves as a bonding time for children and parents.

Theron said: “Unfortunately our society leads a very busy life and as parents we do not spend enough time with our children. Reading time closes the gap, as the child is expected to read to a parent on a daily basis and the parent’s signature is required at the end of the exercise.”

According to Theron all parties involved must be held accountable to ensure tomorrow’s leaders can read confidently. He says teachers, parents and children’s cooperation is equally required.”

Riaan Engelbrecht

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