Sinetemba lives and works in Dunoon. Many people in the neighbourhood are unemployed – and Sinetemba sees the effects of this firsthand. When first asked to participate in the book-sharing training, Sinetemba was resistant. This changed when she saw how much her daughter loved their one-on-one time – and when she realised how book-sharing could benefit her community. “Book-sharing offers parents and caregivers the opportunity to be involved in their children’s development, no matter their level of education or profession.”
Learning to love book-sharing
From her home, Sinetemba offers primary school students extra lessons and helps younger children with their reading. This is done through her role at Boost Africa and their Aftacool programme – an after school programme. “Since I do reading with the children, I felt that I already knew how to read for my kids”, Sinetemba explains when talking about her resistance towards book-sharing. She was surprised, however, to find out how much she enjoyed the book-sharing training sessions.
In the first session, she struggled to let her daughter take control of the story. “The book-sharing is about her [Sinetemba’s daughter]. I needed to let her lead. I was struggling with that.” Although book-sharing is a two-way interaction, it is important that the parent/caregiver allows their child to lead the interaction. You can help guide your child by asking questions or pointing out something specific in the book, but ultimately the child leads the story.
Since the book-sharing training, Sinetemba makes time to “sit, listen and read” with her daughter everyday. “My daughter now knows that she has the power to say something and that I will listen to what she has to say.”
Book-sharing transformed Sinetemba’s relationship with her daughter and she realised that it could do the same for other parents living in Dunoon.
Book-sharing in Dunoon
Along with the Aftacool programme, Sinetemba also assists with Boost Africa’s recycling programme. Women from the Dunoon area collect recycling and drop it off at Boost Africa. From the money that they make, they can buy clothing and food at the shop set up by Boost Africa. Some of these women and their children were Sinetemba’s first book-sharing recruits.
With such high levels of unemployment in the area, Sinetemba has seen how book-sharing has boosted the confidence of parents in attendance – confidence which they may have lost with being unemployed. “I want to hug the parents that come – high five them! They are removing the chains from themselves. Sometimes, when you are unemployed you feel useless, but by going to book-sharing you are doing something big!” Sinetemba has watched parents flourish as they see the impact that book-sharing has.
“The first session is never easy – the parents come in really doubting themselves,” she explains. “Then, when you get to the fifth session, everyone is so into it.” After the sessions with their children, parents have told Sinetemba about their children wanting to read more at home. “It’s very nice to hear when the parents tell you how it has impacted their home life.”
Children’s first teachers
Parents and caregivers have the opportunity to be their children’s first teachers. “It is very important to start getting involved when they are young.” Sinetemba encourages parents to build strong relationships with their children from an early age. “Show them that you trust and believe in them and they will be able to achieve anything!” Sinetemba has seen that book-sharing is one way to do this.