Children should be encouraged to read book reviews in newspapers and magazines in order to learn the format and style of writing own reviews for their own book clubs, writes Phumeze Mgxashe.
This was among a range of strategies were discussed at a workshop organised by the Centre for the Book in Cape Town, which was attended by primary school teachers and municipal librarians to coach teachers and librarians to start book clubs for young and old, especially on the Cape Flats.
Social media platforms, often lambasted by parents for the sedentary lifestyles of their children, were cited as possible aids in sustaining interest in book clubs for school going children, by primary school teachers and municipal librarians at the workshop.
Writing Facebook posts on book discussions; tweeting favourite quotes from books; posting captioned selfies taken at book club meetings, were touted as some of the techniques that could spark the interest of children and other young people in reading.
One of the teachers suggested that reading could be combined with community outreach, for example, school children could read for senior citizens at an old age home.
Libraries emerged as a key resource for such clubs as book buying would unlikely feature as a priority in communities experiencing economic strife as well as ideal meeting venues as they would be no cost attached to using their facilities.
The teachers also spoke of WebQuest as a parallel tool that could support the cultivation of creativity and critical thinking skills required of readers. WebQuest is an inquiry oriented lesson format where information is sourced online and allows the imaginative problem solving by learners. It has been rolled out in schools in the Western Cape.
Another teacher suggested that the mobile libraries needed to be introduced in communities ravaged by gang warfare as it can be unsafe for children to walk to community libraries.
Also, if your thoughts about prison conjure up images of bored orange overall-clad inmates in communal cells, think again as it was revealed by the Centre for the Book that book clubs have taken-off in prisons throughout the country, with most prison book clubs being in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces.
Phumeza Mgxashe is a Cape Town based communications specialist
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