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George among first in province for book-sharing programme

George Municipality Library Services is among the first in the Western Cape to be part of an international reading programme aimed at cognitive and emotional development in children.

Launched during a workshop in George in March 2020 but delayed because of Covid-19 lockdown, the ‘Dialogic’ book-sharing programme saw its first community implementation at a soup kitchen in Syferfontein informal settlement last week (4 November 2021). The programme is a collaborative effort between George Municipality Library Services, The Seven Passes Initiative and the Mikhulu Child Development Trust.

‘Dialogic’ book-sharing uses specially designed picture books to encourage interaction between an adult and a young child. Parents/caretakers are trained how to use the books in an active exchange, led by the child, and how to be attentive to the child’s interests and communication.

George Library Services Manager Rachel Williams said the Syferfontein project was a pilot testing site where parents/caregivers would each be loaned a specially designed book which they could take home for a week. Participants must spend at least five minutes every day with their child using the picture books and return the next week to be assessed and collect a new book. “This programme will run over the next seven weeks. If proven successful, the programme may be systematically rolled out at libraries across the municipal area.

“Dialogic book-sharing can play an important role in the development of cognitive skills, improved focus and attention of the child, while building vocabulary and confidence, and strenghening the bond between parent/caregiver and child,” said Ms Williams.

Pacaltsdorp librarian Eurogene Carolus (standing) hands out books to participating adults at the Syferfontein book-sharing programme last week.