Reading room for Silverlea primary pupils

Grade 3 teacher, Colleen Rinquest, packing the book shelves. She was assisted by ex teacher at the school, Geordie Ractliffe, back left, and temporary librarian at Silverlea, Terri Le Brasseur.

Pupils at Silverlea Primary School are ecstatic about their new reading room which they say will allow them to explore the creative side of their brains as reading allows them to dig into their imaginations.

The new reading room was converted from a shipping container provided by Breadline Africa on Friday September 14.

Breadline distributes shipping containers and prefabricated units for various purposes including: libraries for low quintile primary schools across South Africa; Early Childhood Development Centres and for initiatives and special community projects.

Temporary librarian at Silverlea, Terri le Brasseur, said the container was much needed at the school to further develop the pupils’ passion for reading which started when the school made use of spaces in the corridors to create reading corners with different themes to make reading exciting for the pupils (“School celebrates birthday with library hubs”, Athlone News, May 2).

Ms Le Brassuer said the container library gives the school the opportunity to reach more pupils as it has the space to store, display, and order books. This, she says, will help improve literacy levels among pupils who struggle to read.

“We are trying to get them to understand what they are reading and become eager to take books home. Reading without comprehension is useless,” she says.

The reading room currently has 1 500 books which were acquired with funds raised through events and donations.

The 2016 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study which looked into the reading comprehension of Grade 4 pupils in 50 different countries, revealed that 78% of South African pupils could not read for meaning.

The statistics were influenced by a lack of resources at school, no school libraries, bullying, and discipline problems. Factors also included teacher absenteeism which resulted in the failure to complete the curriculum and late arrival.

The study revealed that pupils who lived in remote rural areas, small towns or villages and townships had the lowest reading literacy achievement compared to pupils from urban, suburban and medium or large towns.

The study further revealed that children of parents who enjoyed reading achieved higher scores than those whose parents did not, that the literacy scores of pupils who received homework daily were higher than those who did not and pupils whose parents did early reading literacy activities with their child before school, tended to achieve much higher reading literacy scores.

Grade 3 teacher, Colleen Rinquest says one of the contributing factors to poor literacy levels is the gang violence which prevents pupils from going to the public library as they risk being shot in sporadic gang shooting.

Principal Karl Martin says he hopes the new reading room will help improve literacy levels among pupils at his school.

Former teacher at the school, Geordie Ractliffe, previously had reading books displayed in her Grade 5 class which the readers could choose from.

She is currently helping to set up the new reading room and says the new space provides the ability to issue and return books.

“In order to maximise the use of the library we need to get all of our books back and this space allows us to have that system.

“Children also love being able to see books on display to choose from,” she says.

Grade 7 pupil, Zhara Daniels, says she is excited to spend time in the reading room as reading takes her to another world.

“I can explore and imagine anything and it takes me to different places,” she says.

The reading room, however, is not big enough for an entire class to fit into, so Ms Le Brasseur, will be taking books outside and reading them to the children. The school thus needs donations of carpets and sheeting to secure a safe reading space for pupils. They also need volunteers to assist the librarian and to read to the children.

To make a donation or volunteer, call the school on 021 637 6777.