In the Xhosa language, Nal’ibali means “it starts with a story”. This term is used as a national campaign slogan by the Nal’ibali Foundation, an organization existing to promote a culture of reading across the entire country of South Africa. In May 2013, Leacock volunteer Maureen Cassidy, founded the Nal’ibali Book Club at Get Ahead College, in an effort to do what the Nal’ibali Foundation does- promote a culture of reading.
The first book the Nal’bali Book Club read was “The Housemaid’s Daughter” by Barbara Mutch, a South African author who grew up in the Eastern Cape. In August 2013, the Book Club traveled from Queenstown to the historic town of Cradock in the Eastern Cape to attend the Karoo
Writer’s Festival and meet the author, Barbara Mutch. The experience was fantastic for Nal’ibali Book Club members, as they were able to ask Mutch questions about the book they had just finished reading.
Beyond improving literacy and promoting independent reading for fun, the Nal’ibali Book Club also facilitates teamwork and leadership.
“Other students see how passionate they [Nal’ibali Book Club members] are about reading and want to share in the experience too.”
Leacock’s support of technology integration into the school has also supported the Book Club. E-readers and wifi access make it quick, easy, and affordable for students to access and download books and other reading materials in a wide variety of languages and topics.
“The culture of reading is deeply entrenched in the school- we don’t have a library but we don’t need one because now we have Kobo e-readers, which alleviate the prohibitive cost of books in South Africa. New books can be loaded immediately and cost-effectively.”
Over the past year and a half, the book club has grown from 9 students to over 25, and has truly nurtured a student-led culture of literacy through reading.