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Read to Rise: 10 years of inspiring children to read


On 18 September 2023, the literacy non-profit organisation READ to RISE celebrated its 10th birthday by giving away 10,000 new story books – 200 new story books to 50 primary schools in Mitchells Plain and surrounds. According to the latest PIRLS survey, 81% of Grade 4 learners in South Africa are functionally illiterate.

Founded in 2013, READ to Rise is a non-profit organisation that promotes youth literacy in under-resourced communities in South Africa. “We hope to inspire children to read so that they can ‘rise’ above their circumstances.” says Co-Founder Athol Williams. Our mission is to create a nation of inspired readers. To date, the organisation has conducted over 6,800 class programmes, placed 372 mini-libraries in classrooms and given out a total of over 300,000 new story books to children around South Africa – over 127,000 children have benefited.

We have worked with Grade 2 and 3 learners at all 47 primary schools in Mitchells Plain over the last 10 years and does the OAKY Puppet Show at public libraries during school holidays to get children excited about reading. This year, thanks to the partnership with Origin Learning Fund, we launched the pilot READ to RISE app for 1,000 children to help with reading and comprehension and digital skills.

Last year, we received the award for Substantial Contribution to the Development and Advancement of Reading and Literacy by the Western Cape Cultural Affairs and Sports. “We’re happy to be able to help the children especially in communities like Mitchells Plain where the learners and schools face so many challenges.” says Programme Manager, Roscoe Williams.

Over the last 10 years, we have partnered with various sponsors to visit schools in the Western Cape, Gauteng, Limpopo, North-West Province and KZN.

"We celebrate 10 years of inspiring children to read! We thank all our sponsors, partners, staff, volunteers and supporters and look forward to many more years of getting children excited about reading.” says Taryn Lock, Co-Founder and Executive Director.

We will also be hosting the third Cape Flats Book Festival on 4-5 November 2023 at West End Primary School in Lentegeur, Mitchells Plain. The objective of the book festival is to bring renowned authors/poets/illustrators to the Cape Flats as well as to showcase new and local talent – uniting children and adults together all for the love of books.

This year the programme includes poets Siphokazi Jonas, Diana Ferris, Khadija Heeger, Cape Cultural Collective poets, Poets Vannie Kaap, Mengelmoesdigters, 13 year old poet Leila Phoenix Alexander, to name a few. Authors include Patric Tariq Mellet, Nadia Kamies, Tessa Dooms & Lynsey Chutel (Coloured), Nikki Munitz (Fraud), Yusuf Daniels, Joy Watson, Sarah Isaacs (Glass Tower), Mia Arderne, Baydu Adams, Nadine Dirks (Hot Water), Sindiwe Magona, Megan Choritz, Getrude Fester, Dennis Cruywagen, Willy Mathys and many more. Children’s book authors include Karen Theunissen, Nonikiwe Mashologu, Naomi Meyer, Anthony Silverston, Christina Kleynhans, Paulvin Webster and more.

There will be over 30 sessions during the 2 days with over 50 speakers. There will be a poetry and identity workshop (by Life Righting Collective) and an information session for aspiring writers. Kids can come see the Oaky Puppet Show and an appearance by Oaky the mascot. There will be exhibitors with books and food on sale - fun for both adults and children.

The book festival will take place Saturday 4th of November 2023 10:00-16:00 and Sunday 5th of November 2023 10:00-14:30 at West End Primary School, Merrydale Avenue, Lentegeur, Mitchells Plain. Entrance is free. Our organisation relies on sponsorships from individuals, corporates and trusts to conduct its class programmes. For only R50 per learner, he/she will benefit from the READ to RISE Class Programme and also receive a new story book to take home.

For more information or if you would like to assist us in promoting youth literacy, please visit: or email us at:


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