Access to books is only part of the story for children in Africa’s schools, where books are often seen as tools for exam preparation. To instil a genuine and lifelong love of reading, we launched our reading club programme in 2017.

Since then, School Aid has been running a series of primary-school reading clubs in Lesotho and Malawi. Here, bringing stories alive is the role of our Project and Reading Club Officers, who work with lead teachers in designated schools to deliver interactive clubs to small groups of children.

A pre-club ‘energiser’ sets the scene, separating this time of fun and learning from the greater formality of school lessons. Every week, our young participants listen to a story – often a fable or other traditional tale generously provided by Usborne Books at Home – with plenty of time to join in with actions and mime. Then it’s time to be creative, perhaps drawing a picture to illustrate the story, or making a simple mask, while individual reading sessions give the chance to grow a child’s confidence. And so, often for the first time, each child has the opportunity to discover a world of stories and through them, to unlock the pure joy of reading.