Encouraging a culture of reading in the Franschhoek valley and raising funds for a new community library and local school libraries were important reasons for establishing the Franschhoek Literary Festival in 2007.
The FLF Library Fund has invested extensively in four primary school libraries and continuing book donations to a container children’s library, crèches and other libraries, not only financially but in terms of energy and interest in the reading habits and well-being of the learners in the valley.
The following reading for enjoyment initiatives are helping to create a generation of readers who are moving up the schools…
The FLF Book Week for young readers is in its fifth year
2016 will be the fifth year of the Book Week for Young Readers which precedes each Festival, bringing over fifty children’s authors, storytellers, performance poets and workshop facilitators to visit every class in eight schools in the valley, engaging with nearly 5000 youngsters. The visitors are matched to the learners’ mother tongues or second language in the older grades.
The FLF School Library Project is in its fourth year
Established in October 2012, the Project is now running on oiled wheels which is very rewarding after more than three years of focused hard work. The learners are enthusiastic about their library lessons, love the bright and beautiful new books, and enjoy story time in the younger grades. They are responsible borrowers and library users, so that very few books are damaged or lost. The sight of a class rushing into the library for their lesson, listening with delight to books being read in their mother tongue and English, readily interacting with the readers and eagerly selecting the next book to take home is heart-warming and affirming. In time, being able to read aloud to their parents and siblings at home adds an important dimension to their library experience.
The Project has trained, supervises and helps to fund library assistants in all four schools who do excellent work, balancing fun library spaces with guidance in library discipline. It is gratifying that the schools now realise the value of libraries and of leisure reading in the education process, and that managements and teachers are fully supportive and appreciative of their libraries. Click here for the FLF Library Fund’s downloadable library handbook.
Around R1.5m has been spent on stocking, staffing, training, supervising and facilitating the operation of these libraries, and on improving the book stocks in other local schools and libraries. As well as advising two school libraries in nearby villages, the Project has put over 5000 books into the primary schools, established regular weekly library lessons for 65 classes, and continues to positively influence the reading experience of at least 3000 learners each year.
The Annual Spelling Bee held during the lead-up to each Festival, with finals on the Festival Saturday, has become a popular competition for primary school learners, encouraging wider reading.
Open morning for outside schools
This takes place on Friday morning as the Festival begins, and consists of special events for visiting high schools – all associated with current books. Tickets are R20 (free for disadvantaged schools). In 2016, the Festival will again host the finals for the Poetry for Life finals – an international initiative to encourage high school learners to learn poetry by heart. Tickets to this event will cost R20, and will be free for disadvantaged schools.
The main festival programme can now be viewed on this website, and tickets are now on sale on webtickets.co.za. Individual school bookings for Friday events can be made at webtickets.co.za; for block bookings and enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org.