Annalise lives in Chicago, Paarl – an area that she describes as riddled with drugs and gangsterism. After completing the book-sharing training, Annalise has seen how something which “seems so small, can make a huge difference” in her community. She now runs book-sharing sessions with young children from her area and aims to get parents involved in the training too.

Determined to make a difference

The school that Annalise works for, Small Talk Daycare, is connected to Inceba Trust. Describing herself as someone who loves to learn, she has taken part in different trainings and workshops through Inceba Trust, and jumped at the opportunity to participate in the book-sharing training. “Being part of the training was the best decision!” Annalise reflects that before the training, she had no idea that you could use wordless picture books to tell stories with children.

Annalise has noticed that in Chicago, there is a lack of love for reading among the children. This is something that she feels determined to change and sees book-sharing as a way to do this. She explains that although she is struggling to find the appropriate space and amount of books for her book-sharing sessions, she is steadfast in making it work, “even if I have to make my own books”.

Building excitement around books

The first time that Annalise started noticing children not being interested in reading was in a Sunday School Bible Studies class. “I took them [the children] from church”, she says laughing. Annelisa has seen how book-sharing captivates children and helps to gain their attention. She now has 17 children who come to her book-sharing sessions and plans on getting more onboard. “Seeing the influence that book-sharing has on the children makes me feel excited to reach even more children. I can’t stop!”

A memory that has stuck with Annalise, was with the fourth child to join her book-sharing sessions. “He was doing so well that we switched roles,” she explains. The little boy took on the role of caregiver and Annalise took on the role of the child. “My heart! I got tears in my eyes,” she exclaims when remembering that special moment.

annalise changing communities

Getting parents onboard

Along with wanting to get more children to join her book-sharing sessions, Annalise also recognises the importance of training parents in her community. She says that with only a few minutes a day, parents will be able to build stronger relationships with their children and be able to witness “great progress” with their child.

“It is powerful to learn and I don’t want to keep the information to myself”, says Annalise. If she was to start with only five parents, she sees it “sparking a love for book-sharing in other parents”.

Not only does she feel that the book-sharing sessions would benefit parents and caregivers’ relationships with their children, but it would positively impact the community as a whole. With more parents being actively involved in their children’s lives, children would be less likely to get involved in the drugs and gangsterism that has infiltrated Chicago. “If children start to change, then parents do too. We all make the community and we all have a part to play, so I think there will be great change!”

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Early Learning Centre, Athlone, Cape Town, 7764

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