President Cyril Ramaphosa is launching a virtual book club in an effort to encourage reading across the country. Called The President’s Reading Circle, the initiative will allow readers to tell the President himself how they felt about the book they have just completed on the reading list.
“The President’s Reading Circle is a home for passionate, veteran readers and those who are in the first thralls of their exploration with words and ideas,” the National Reading Coalition (NRC) said in a statement. “This is where we share current and past reads; where we compliment and critique writers and their readers, and where we engage with seriousness and fun for the sake of building a community around reading and all it inspires.”
Ramaphosa highlighted the importance of how reading can unlock opportunities during his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in June this year.
In 2016, South Africa was the lowest-ranking country – coming in at number 50 out of 50 countries – for reading with comprehension among grade four learners.
The study, which was conducted by the Progress In International Reading Literacy (PIRLS), found that 78% of the Grade 4 learners who participated could not read with comprehension. It also found that book sales upwards of 5 000 units made a book a bestseller in the country.
“We are witnessing the emergence of a new generation of writers who are narrating the story of a 21st century South Africa through diverse storylines that reflect a rapidly transforming society,” the NRC said.
There are 14 books on the official book club list, and these include:
Little me wants to be – Michelle Lockett
Malala my story of standing up for girls’ rights – Malala Yousafzai
Our story magic – Gcina Mhlophe
The day Gogo went to vote – Elenor Sisulu
The new century of South African short stories – Michael Chapman
Grit – Angela Duckworth
If I could sing – Keorapetse Kgositsile
Still Grazing – Hugh Masekela
Frontiers – Noël Mostert
The uncertainty of hope – Valerie Tagwira
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Little suns – Zakes Mda
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
I write what I like – Steve Biko