Encouraging a culture of reading in the Franschhoek valley and raising funds for a new community library and local school libraries were important motivators for establishing the Franschhoek Literary Festival in 2007. The FLF Schools Library Project has invested extensively in four primary school libraries and continuing book donations to a container children’s library, crèches and other libraries, not only financially but in terms of energy and interest in the reading habits and wellbeing of the learners in the valley.

The project is now running on oiled wheels. The pupils are enthusiastic about their library lessons, love the bright and beautiful new books, and the younger grades can’t wait for story time. The sight of a class rushing into the library, listening with delight to books being read in their mother tongue and English, readily interacting with the readers and eagerly selecting the next book to take home is heart-warming and affirming. Being able to read aloud to their parents and siblings at home adds an important dimension to their library experience.

The project trains, supervises and helps to fund library assistants in all four schools. They all do excellent work, balancing fun library spaces with guidance in library discipline. It delights us that the schools have fully embraced the value of libraries and leisure reading in the education process, and that managements and teachers are fully supportive of their libraries. Click here for the FLF Library Fund’s downloadable library handbook.

Approximately R1.5m has been spent on stocking, staffing, training, supervising and facilitating the operation of these libraries, and on improving the book stocks in other local schools and libraries. As well as advising two school libraries in nearby villages, the Library Project has put more than 5 000 books into the primary schools, established regular weekly library lessons for 65 classes, and continues to positively influence the reading experience of at least 3 000 learners each year. We believe we are close to achieving that deeply fulfilling match of literacy with literature. This is largely due to you the audiences, our sponsors, and our dedicated team that ensures that book lovers present and future will continue to read and grow.

The FLF Book Week for Young Readers (BWYR) is now in its eighth year Book Week for Young Readers precedes each Festival, bringing more than fifty children’s authors, storytellers, performance poets and workshop facilitators to visit every class in eight schools in the valley, engaging with nearly 5 000 youngsters. The visitors are matched to the learners’ mother tongues or second language in the older grades.

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