Making reading fun for children

The children had to take each animal cut-out and paste it on the A3 puzzle book, matching the animal with the empty shape in the book.

A story by a popular children’s author came to life at a Bridgetown nursery school as part of International Children’s Book Day, last week.

The day is held annually on April 2, but the Ma’roof Educare Centre, in Tarentaal Road, got into the swing of things a little early on Thursday March 30 with some help from the Centre for Early Childhood Development and the Cape Town Museum of Childhood.

They selected the children’s book, Monkey Puzzle, by Julia Donaldson, for a book walk – a kind of imaginary safari through a story – at the school, which has 94 children aged two to six years old.

The story is about a monkey who has lost his mother and befriends a butterfly who tries to help him find her.

The monkey describes his mother to the butterfly, who leads him to all the wrong animals until he finally finds her.

Each page of the book was assigned a separate station in the school’s hall, where teachers read only that page to the children.

The children then collected a cut-out of each animal the butterfly thought was the monkey’s mother.

At the end of the book walk, the children did a puzzle, pasting cut-outs of animals into a book.

Mymoena Sayed, the nursery school’s principal, said it was very important for children to read at an early age to develop their vocabulary.

The children were very excited about the book walk as they could dress up in a variety of costumes – everything from Spiderman to Red Riding Hood.

“At some high schools, we find that there are children who still can’t read and spell,” said Ms Sayed.

She hopes parents, hearing about the book walk from their children, will be be encouraged to take them to the library because “children don’t go to libraries anymore”.

Najwa Mukadam, from the Centre for Early Childhood Development in Claremont, said the idea was to fire the children’s imaginations.

“We wanted to find a way to tap into their imaginations and make reading fun for kids. From zero to six years old is the foundation phase and these are the building blocks for learning. Children who can’t read battle with their English, and reading makes it easier for them,” she said.

“This will eventually lead to fewer school drop-outs and social ills such as teenage pregnancy.”