Literacy, Past Workshops

The How & Why of Reading Aloud to Children


Workshop held at Oasis Baby Bridge the Gap School in Cosmo City, Johannesburg

22 May 2019

An inspiring, meaningful and heartfelt morning was spent with the teachers from the Oasis Baby Bridge the Gap School, as well as a few teachers and principals from the local community. We were also joined by three young ladies who live locally and who are determined to get into teaching as a career.

The idea behind the workshop was to motivate, support and inspire these teachers to use the magic of READING ALOUD to grow the literacy levels of the children in their care, as effectively as possible, while developing & fostering a love of books & reading.

Our morning was filled with discussing / demonstrating the following:

  • Why should we read aloud to kids?
  • The process of introducing a new book or story that creates EXCITEMENT
    • Pre-reading strategies
    • Prediction
    • Drawing out known vocabulary
  • Reading the story & how to create MAGIC
    • Building excitement & interest through intonation & body language
    • Maintaining interest & engagement through questions & participation
    • Introducing new vocabulary
    • Linking new information with existing knowledge
    • Creating opportunities for repetition & discussion
  • After reading
    • End on a high note.
    • Always tell learners how much you enjoyed reading to them.
    • Compliment the learners on their behaviour & engagement levels.
    • Reading must be a feel-good activity and must be associated with positive things.
  • Extension activities
    • Extension activity: Discuss what happened in the story.
    • Extension activity: Allow learners to retell the story or parts of the story.
    • Extension activity: Bring in critical & analytical thinking by
      • asking learners to give their opinion regarding what one of the characters says or does
      • asking learners to say why they loved, liked, felt neutral to or hated the story giving reasons for their answers
      • ask learners what in their opinion a character could have done differently to change the outcome of the story
      • ask learners if they can think of ways that this story can be linked or likened to real life
    • Extension activity: All learners to draw their favourite characters from the story and then to present them to the class with a verbal description.
    • Extension activity: Stop before the end of the story and come up with your own endings.
    • Extension activity: Rewriting the end of the story even if you know what happens in the book / choose a different ending.
  • Why children love to reread stories over and over and why this is important.
  • How can you get something new out of a story every time you read it?
  • How frequently should children be read to?

Nyameka Ngqondi, one of the current teachers at Oases Baby Bridge the Gap School, identified the need to start a school for children who are excluded from local schools for various reasons. Oases Baby Bridge the Gap School fills a unique need for about 20 children. I was so impressed by how enthusiastic and well behaved the learners were and how passionate the teachers are. It made me all the more pleased to be able to conduct this workshop with them.

We ended our day by forming break-away groups and each teacher took a small group of children out into the sunshine and had the chance to read a book aloud to the learners while implementing what they had seen and heard. It was heartwarming to see the children upon their knees, clamoring around the teachers, completely transfixed by the stories being read to them. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful morning of learning & discovery.

To see the passion and drive demonstrated by the attending teachers & community members showed me, yet again, how much talent & commitment there is out there in South Africa. It also highlighted how many well-intentioned, yet invisible, individuals we have, doing great work out in our local communities, here in Johannesburg and across the country. They need recognition and a huge appreciative pat on the back as their jobs are hard and often thankless.

If you would like to find out more about upcoming workshops, please click HERE. Alternatively, if you would like to book a workshop to be presented at your organization, please contact Lianne at

Articles, Literacy, Reading

Why Reading Matters | Isobel Abulhoul | TEDxWinchesterTeachers

Isobel Abulhoul addresses her TEDx audience of teachers about 'Why Reading Matters'.

Isobel Abulhoul has led a tireless campaign to improve literacy and a love of books, particularly for children. She makes many valuable points in her talk below.

In her talk, Isobel makes the valuable point that reading matters because statistically it has been shown that human beings have a better chance in life if they read regularly. She points out that reading is one of the most unique defining features of human-beings – our ability to read, write and record all that we discover and think about.

Isobel also discusses how her childhood and parents led her to her love of reading, how this waned for a time, and then how it was once again reignited by passionate teachers and good reading material. She points out that it is our duty as significant adults to find ways to help others to enjoy books and reading, especially those who currently do not.

Her message ties in with what I so strongly believe – that becoming a reader can change the course of your life, that the adults in our lives can give us the gift of literacy and a love of reading and that this allows us to take control of our own education and learning. I believe that if you can read well and if you love reading, you can teach yourself anything you want to learn. You are no longer dependent on others for learning.


Why reading matters | Isobel Abulhoul | TEDxWinchesterTeachers

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.

Articles, Literacy

Why we all need to start reading aloud to our kids | Keisha Siriboe | TEDxWanChai

Keisha Siriboe addresses her audience on reading aloud to kids.

I have such fond memories from my childhood of my mom reading aloud to us girls. I can still smell her, feel the fluff of her jersey against my cheek, sense the up and down motion evoked by the expression in her voice. There were three of us and we’d fight to be on either side of her, closest to her. Being the oldest child I usually had to give way to one of my younger sisters. But this gave me the opportunity to gaze at my mom while she read, taking in the effort she put in with her eyes, facial expression, speed, volume, tone and variation. All of this created the magic that everyone speaks about in relation to books. There is no doubt that it starts with the bonding that takes place.

In her TEDx Talk, Keisha Siriboe reflects on this magic when saying, “The power of parent-child reading aloud is more than just the skill, it’s the bonding and if anyone has experienced being read to or reading to a child, there is something, and I’m gonna use an unscientific term to describe it. It is absolutely magical if you experience enjoying a story with a child.”

Keisha states what we already know which is that the research indicates that 15 minutes of reading aloud a day is the minimum amount of time you need to invest in order to start seeing some outcomes. However, Keisha wants us to go beyond just these 15 minutes, which is a good start and talk about the power of reading in a way that ties back into 21st-century skills, which is currently one of the hot topics of the day.

Keisha Siriboe also stresses the role of parents & child themed books by stressing that there is no better way to introduce children to the world than through a children’s book that presents the child being a child, which is something they relate to. She also puts emphasis on the fact that there cannot be anything better than being taught by someone you love more than anyone in this world, a parent, in what should be the safest place in the world, the home.

Her call to action asking us to build a bridge that connects our children to a better tomorrow by reading to them today if a challenge that is applicable to all countries, not just Hong Kong.


Why we all need to start reading aloud to our kids | Keisha Siriboe | TEDxWanChai

Further reading

To explore working with Lianne in Randburg / Sandton and other areas in Johannesburg, contact her for a consultation to discuss how she can assist you.