Franschhoek: Book week for Young Readers (BWYR)


Numbers are not the most important thing when it comes to books and reading, but it is interesting to note that BWYR last week reached between 7 000 and 8 000 young readers and potential readers from pre-school to Matric in the Franschhoek valley. That took 60 volunteer book people – storytellers, writers, illustrators, poets and publishers – who mostly visited children in their own classrooms. Eight schools took part (some hosting larger gatherings). There were over 120 events and every person involved had an absolute ball.

This is the 7th time BWYR has taken place. Originally begun as an outreach project by the Franschhoek Literary Festival, the concept of taking facilitators to the schools is far more effective than trying to transport so many children in the other direction. Using Bridge House School as a meeting point, book people are dispersed throughout the valley by a willing team of Bridge House parents – over thirty of whom took part in this migration. Taking the stress out of finding the venue is one of the secrets of this whole idea. Coffee, tea and snacks are provided – and sandwiches for lunch afterwards – but the real highlight is the chance to connect with the children who are reading, the children who can be encouraged to read more; the children who don’t like reading, but might think more favourably about the idea after BWYR. It is an important connection.

Thanks are due to everyone who took part, all the schools involved and, most particularly to Bridge House School and the organizers of the Franschhoek Literary Festival who make it possible. The aim is always to bring more books to more children – and Franschhoek has been doing that through Book Week for Young Readers and their Library Project since the festival’s inception.

Our thanks to everyone from the organisers:
Janet Johnson (schools and Bridge House) and Lesley Beake (Book People).
Image: Master of story Gcina Mhlophe at Dalabuhle School

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