Second Annual National Book Week Forum encourages youth to read one book a month

Second Annual National Book Week Forum encourages youth to read one book a month

Speakers agree that spreading a culture of reading books plays a fundamental role in developing a prosperous nation

Johannesburg – Wednesday, 03 September 2014 – Yesterday the South African Reading Foundation (SARF) in partnership with O.R. Tambo International Airport, Brand SA and the University of Johannesburg encouraged South Africans to read one book a month for leisure at the launch the second annual National Book Week Forum at the University of Johannesburg’s Kingsway Campus.

According to the South African Books Development Council 14% of South Africans are active readers, 1% buy books from bookstores  and only 5% of parents read books to their children.

Speaking at the National Book Week Forum, Airports Company South Africa Chief Operating Officer (COO) Mr Tebogo Mekgoe said, “Read books that challenge your perspective, that help you look at issues from various angles before coming to a conclusion.”

Mr Mekgoe further discussed what reading does in terms of ability, “Reading books teaches us how to communicate and to connect with people.  However, if you don’t use the knowledge and skills you acquire from reading to help improve the lives of other people, you will become irrelevant very quickly.”

Ms Mpumi Mabuza, representing Brand South Africa at the event recounted to the audience why reading is so vital in ensuring individuals and nations reach their full potential.  “My love for reading was ignited when I read Catcher in the Rye.  It has since opened up a world of possibilities for me and my world is now so much bigger and better because of reading.

“I urge young people to include books in their daily activities of checking their Facebook pages and twitter updates.  I encourage you to stop watching television 30 minutes earlier so that you can read a few pages of a book or the newspaper.  Instead of visiting malls all the time, start a book club through which you can share your experiences of the books you are reading .

“When you see how much value reading books adds to your life, reading will cease to be a chore but will become something you love to you.  You will be growing your world through the pages of what you are reading and you will also be growing our country.  That is the power of reading.” Ms Mpumi Mabuza, Acting Stakeholder Relations Director, Brand South Africa.

Speaking about O.R. Tambo International Airport’s involvement in early childhood learning and  education, the airport’s spokesperson, Unathi Batyashe-Fillis said, “O.R. Tambo International Airport has touched more than 6 000 lives in the past four years, through the donation of schools shoes, a science laboratory, book reading session and acknowledging high achievers in education. This is part of our drive to encourage excellence in learning, which can only start with a love of reading.”

Tebogo Ditshego, founder of Africa’s most followed book club “Read A Book SA” with over 30,900 followers on Twitter spoke about the state of African innovation and how an investment in inculcating a book reading culture can lead the continent to economic prosperity. “According to a study released in the UK Telegraph, reading books for leisure is the single most important indicator of a teenager’s future success. If we want to create an economically prosperous country we need to inculcate a culture of reading amongst the youth.

“Germany invested in technical higher schools in 1825 which developed generations of Engineers and chemists. They have a strong book reading culture and millions across the globe now want German cars because they invested in an education system that works. We can also take our nation to greater heights if we are willing to invest in building a nation that reads.”

This year’s theme for the National Book Week South Africa “going places” emphasizes that reading books can take anyone places professionally, socially, as well as through the travelling one experiences in each story. The sub-theme for the forum is Intellectual Swag which means it’s cool to be intelligent. This concept counters the negative stereotypes associated with reading books and has proven to increase the appeal of the activity amongst youth.

Guest speakers included: CEO of Shanduka Group Ms Phuti Mahanyele, Airports Company South Africa COO Mr Tebogo Mekgoe, Author Mr Shaka Sisulu, Author Ms Gugu Ndima, O.R. Tambo

International Airport Spokesperson Mrs. Unathi Batyashe-Fillis, Band SA Director: Stakeholder

Relations Ms Mpumi Mabuza, Media Personality Ms Pearl Thusi (MC), Actress Ms Nolo Phiri, Author Mr Mbali Mkhonto and Chairperson of the SA Reading Foundation Mr Tebogo Ditshego.