Former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, once said that “Literacy is a bridge from misery to hope. It is the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential,’’ yet for millions of South African children, that bridge seems inaccessible.
While the literacy crises in South Africa continues, many experts agree that learning to read in one’s mother tongue can helps combat this issue. According to early literacy specialist, author, and translator, Dr Xolisa Guzula, ‘’Research shows that children learn better when they are grounded in their mother tongue.’’
However, what exacerbates the problem is that most kids only have access to books that are not in their home languages. Only 2% of children’s books published commercially in South Africa* are in local African languages. In a country where approximately eight out of ten people speak a home language other than English, creating relatable stories in indigenous languages is critical if we hope to improve childhood literacy.
Cadbury Dairy Milk has always been a brand steeped in the spirit of generosity and pioneering social impact. Cadbury remains committed to its mission of igniting a love for reading in the next generation by making homegrown stories more accessible in their home language.
The Homegrown Stories initiative is the latest step in a long-term social mission to grow, co-author, distribute and inspire relatable children’s stories in all 11 official South African languages. Last year, Cadbury Dairy Milk asked the public to translate words into their mother tongue. A team of young local authors then weaved these words into exciting new stories. To date over 500 stories have been translated and made available for download from the Cadbury Digital Library with an additional 45 000 books printed and distributed directly to the children who needed them the most.
South Africa is a nation of natural storytellers, crafted through our shared experiences and diversity. This year, Cadbury is encouraging South Africans to tap into their innate storytelling abilities and, by using their everyday interests and experiences as inspiration, generously share a homegrown story in their beloved home language.
‘’With a goal to increase the number of homegrown stories, available in all local African languages, to 1,000 by the end of the year. What better way to advance this mission than by bringing South Africans from all walks of life together to participate in a collective labour of love. Together a small generous act of sharing a story can create lasting impact on a child’s life. An authentic story can encourage a child to want to read more, which in turn can open new worlds and introducing opportunities for the next generation. By sharing our own homegrown stories, we are hoping to create a space where our children can see themselves reflected in the books that shape their childhood.”
- Lara Sidersky, Mondelez SA Category Lead for Chocolate.
Telling our own stories
Representation and resonance are important aspects in the literacy journey. When children can see themselves reflected in stories it aids comprehension and encourages enjoyment of the reading journey, which in turn promotes a culture of reading.
Professional storyteller and author Baeletsi Tsatsi agrees, ‘’By telling relatable stories to our children, we give them a sense of their place in the world and let them know that they matter and their experiences matter. If we want children to fall in love with reading and themselves, then it is paramount that they see themselves in the stories they read, and this is a beautiful way to do that.”
Dr Guzula continues, “The importance of children being able to relate to the stories we tell them cannot be overstated when it comes to developing a love for reading. Nurturing the enjoyment of reading also puts a child at an advantage when they reach school going age.”
To amplify this enjoyment Cadbury commissioned local illustrator, Russel Abrahams aka Yay Abe, to incorporate his contemporary design style into creating engaging, impactful Cadbury Story Edition packs to launch the Homegrown Stories journey.
Creating Impact through accessibility
Cadbury Dairy Milk has partnered with several like-minded organisation and distributors to ensure these stories reach all children, both physically and virtually, in languages that they understand.
Alongside community radio stations, who provide an ideal storytelling platform, Cadbury has also partnered with Qualibooks, a leading provider of curriculum-based library and other educational resources to schools and communities. Chris De Beer, a director at Qualibooks, adds, “There is clearly a demand for literature in African languages that needs to be provided for. The number of stories being read after school via our KiBooks online platform clearly shows that we are helping children develop a love of for reading in their spare time. If we can help cultivate that by providing them with more titles that speak to their lived experiences, we have no doubt that we can do our bit to improve childhood literacy in this country.”
How South Africans can play a role
Cadbury Dairy Milk is asking the public to join them and help children fall in love with reading by sharing an authentic Homegrown Story.
Look out for the Cadbury Homegrown Story Edition packs for all the details on how to unlock your stories. Simply scan the QR code on pack to open WhatsApp and follow the prompts to share a story in your beloved home language either via voice notes, typing your story ending or uploading a PDF. You can also visit the Cadbury Digital Library or see your story brought to life through the interactive AR lens.
Visit cadbury.co.za and join the #CadburyHomeGrownStories conversation:
*Sources: https://www.publishsa.co.za/file/1519203677awr-2016publishingindustrysurvey.pdf; https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/retail-and-consumer/2021-04-28-game-pins-hopes-on-selling-african-language-childrens-books-in-turnaround-drive/