Opening the world of reading

At Little Red Dragon Preschool, it is never too early to develop a love of reading.

Every day, a class of 20 young minds are encouraged to delight in the world of books, instead of waiting to be introduced when they start ‘big school’.

The ages of the children of Little Red Dragon may range from four to six, but for them, reading is an activity that they are learning to thoroughly enjoy. They are not only read to by their teachers in English, but in Afrikaans and isiXhosa as well.

The staff at Little Red Dragon believe that it is important to teach the children in their mother-tongues; alongside the primary medium of instruction which is English. It is proven that children learn better in their own language. It is also a good opportunity to develop future multilingual citizens who are appreciative of diversity and who have a formidable grasp of more than one language.

Below are a series of photographs of the Little Red Dragon preschoolers during their reading time. The main boy featured in the pictures is 4 year-old Luciano Gallant. Luciano cannot yet read but has memorised the words of his favourite book, Kassie se Glimlag. Many of the children at Little Red Dragon come from disadvantaged backgrounds and are either under the care of grandparents or foster parents. However, this has not stopped them from developing in the classroom and embracing books.

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During reading time, each child is allowed to pick a book from the classroom library. They are usually encouraged to read aloud to one another.

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Chante Blom, 5, and Kimberley Njani, 5, during reading time.

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Once they have chosen their books, the children must try to identify the main character of their book on an illustrated map. Luciano, points to a frog.

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Shakira Sauls, 5 and the book she has chosen from the classroom library.

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Luciano first reaches for the Bible from the classroom library!

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…But he eventually settles for an easier read!

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The spotlight is on Luciano as he is asked by the teacher to “read” aloud to the class. Kassie se Glimlag is one of his favourite stories that he has memorised and is about a boy who has lost his smile.

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At the end of the book, Kassie finds his smile from being hugged by his loving parents.

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Why I love Marie Claire South Africa

In Grade 12, a boy I had a crush on called me a feminist. I took it as a compliment, because it was a sign that he was paying attention to me. He could not have been more wrong. Any self-respecting feminist might have banished me from the movement because of my reliance on his opinion to feel worthy of his affection.

Still, I felt like I had accomplished something. He was not like most boys his age and was very insightful. I had tried relentlessly to get him to notice me. When I spotted him in the room where I was presenting a speech on female empowerment, I told myself that this was my chance to captivate him with my intellectual and linguistic prowess (the speech was in isiZulu). Fortunately, it had been a week since my Matric dance, so my weave was also still in check.

I imagined that after my presentation, we would sit and chat and he would want to spend more time getting to know me. All I got was, “You’re quite a feminist”. And all I could do was mumble shyly about how I wasn’t.

When the blind-fold was miraculously lifted and I realised that I was not the yellow-bone he had been pining for, I distanced myself from him and threw my feelings where they belonged. I no longer have a crush on him but three years later a morsel of rejection still resides within me when I think about how I was not good enough for him. This is getting deep for a post that is simply titled, “Why I love Marie Claire South Africa” but this is a magazine that has certainly been a part of my maturation into a young South African woman and an aspiring features writer.

I count browsing their blogging site as productive procrastination. If I am in need of a thought-provoking distraction, I usually visit marieclairvoyant.com. Don’t worry, you will not be bombarded with “How to Make Him Yours” headlines, nor will you have to set AdBlock to avoid adverts for psychic readings. Marie Clairvoyant has been created purely for your benefit as a woman.

The blogging staff at Marie Claire have created a “Body Politics/Sex” section where you can find a range of posts that surround the issues of body politics. You do not have to be a feminist to have a vested interest in this section, you simply need to be a twenty-first century woman who due to the pervasiveness of the media has undoubtedly had her image judged and scrutinized, by well, everybody.

The blog posts usually critique the fashion industry and communities where woman are often told that they need to be more skinnier or lighter in complexion or not grow out their armpit hair. For a magazine that obviously has interests in fashion, this is refreshing, especially for a community of woman who would benefit from realising that they are not alone in their struggle to conform to certain beauty standards or ideals.

This is not a “Ya-Ya Sisterhood” blog that aims to homogenise women and their issues and inadvertently inject you into some kind of female movement. It is a blog that simply tries to unite woman in their struggles while also embracing their diversity.

For the record, my ex-crush was wrong. I am not a feminist. However, I do support a magazine that rejects the fashion/media industry’s objectification of women and that also intends to celebrate the ordinary woman, flaws and all. After all, it is what we deserve.

Why I want to write

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Book Review

It felt as if Holden Caulfield, 17, was having a conversation with me.

When it was time to pick up where we left off, I could see his cigarette drooping from the corner of his mouth. I googled his iconic red hunting hat after our first few meetings. Our cultural differences made it difficult for me to imagine his favourite accessory, for his look was incomplete without his hunting hat.

Since the birth of his character, Holden has unknowingly allowed many a generation into the crevices of his mind. He has solidified his place in twentieth century literature as a symbol of teenage angst and alienation. Some have been disturbed by his eerie thoughts and never-ending condemnation of society. It seems as though nothing is good enough for Holden. Not even Holden is good enough for Holden. While some have gladly given up the venture into Holden’s life, others have embraced his thoughts as their own and found solace in his dry sense of humour.

I have often stopped to wonder what Holden would think of me. If he gave me a chance to tell my story, would he see that he is not alone in this awkward period of transition? Perhaps he would realise that there is an entire generation of adolescents who can identify with him. However, Holden does not seem like the type who would want to lean on others for support. Even if for a moment he felt the need for companionship, he would abandon the idea of calling up a friend to offload his feelings.

In J.D. Salinger’s novel, Holden walks alone. Before he shares the pages with other characters, he warns us about their personalities, which makes you understand why he chooses to walk alone. He is somewhat obsessed with the word “phony” and even uses it to describe his parents. The truth about Holden is that he does not make you look at the world any differently. He does not even seem to be aware of the significance of his own story. You just feel isolated with him as he pulls you deeper into his thoughts. He can be repetitive and monotonous at times but this is as much a curse at it is a blessing. Contrary to what he believes about himself, Holden is actually very honest, even with himself. He can be self-deprecating because he is aware of his failures and his flaws and often points them out. However, even when he is telling you his story, you get the feeling that there is more to what he is telling you and that perhaps he doesn’t even realise it himself.

The “aha” moment of Holden’s logic is embedded in this quote: “I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff—I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I’d do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all.”

It is the most famous quote of the novel and it is at this moment that you realise that there is a point to Holden’s ramblings. If you were a psychologist, you would perhaps understand the source of his misery. Holden is in limbo and like the rest of us, has to find his feet as he transitions from childhood to adulthood.

The Catcher in the Rye has inspired me because of Salinger’s use of first person stream consciousness. Holden’s is the sole voice in the novel and in my opinion this gives the book its poetic feel. It also makes the character much more three-dimensional, even if you are only being given a snapshot of his life. Salinger’s novel is quite unconventional for me and I appreciate the fact that it is unlike any other book that I have ever read even if there are more like it. As a writer, I am tempted to follow Salinger’s example and write books where you have a very close encounter with the character. As an aspiring features writer, I am keen to use the devices he has used to make the reader feel very close to the subject and to feel as if they are walking with them.

 

Waiting to Become

I am not sure of the headline that I have used but this is meant for the eyes of those who would like to know a little bit more about me and my writing life. I am a journalism and media studies student, specializing in writing and editing. In the document attached is a reflective essay that I wrote for my lecturer. A metaphor runs through this essay about trying to become someone. I used quotes from Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot to add more meaning to the metaphor. If you dare to understand me and my thoughts, then take a look at my essay :). Journ Reflective Essay

It’s wine ‘o’ clock on the dot!

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The bitterness was unexpected. An anti-climax to the rich, burst of flavour I had been anticipating.

The taste rivalled a tablespoon of castor-oil and that was always unpleasant.

I was six years old and I did not imagine that the wine that reminded me of red grape juice would taste as horrible as it did.

Nonetheless, I continued to act like I was enjoying it even though I could not bear to swallow the second sip that swished around in my mouth.

My sister and I were playing a game and tried to act ‘posh’ as we drank from the glasses that we were given to us with our parents’ permission.

Although I am a Durbanite at heart, my early childhood memories of living in the Western Cape involve the nostalgia of wine. My Dad who collected wine, would often order different varieties from a catalogue.

My favourite thing to do when I was bored would be to page through his coffee table book that had the most beautiful photographs of the Cape Winelands. The rustic energy of those pictures stick with me today and remind me of my childhood.

My next wine tasting experience was one I looked forward to every Sunday. My excitement of being in church would peak when it was time to receive Holy Communion. I loved the sweet flavour and the warm/burning feeling in my chest after sipping from the cup. Amen!

Since reaching the legal drinking age, I have not considered myself to be a wine person. I was haunted by the bitter taste that I knew from my childhood. Until I went to Spier Wine Farm for a close friend’s twenty-first.

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Investigating the various wine flavours was like being at a magic show. First, swish the wine in your glass then smell it. Let its aroma drift into your nostrils. Then smell the piece of chocolate. Smell your wine again…Do you notice the difference?

YES! I could not fathom the difference which actually made all the difference to the way in which I would at wine thereafter.

Every sip after that was a serendipitous moment on my taste buds.

I feel that I have come full circle since my first experiment with wine. The enriching wine-tasting experience has been like engaging with a new art form and not only helped to me to acquire a new taste but also helped me to learn something new.

I can’t remember what Pinotage and Chardonnay mean but one day if my bank account allows it I would be more than happy to learn again.

I now look at a bottle of wine with reverence after my visit to Spier.

My secret obsession

It is a chilly Wednesday evening. I have just managed to finish my supper. It is my absolute favourite, ‘Lancashire Hot Pot’. I just love eating a stew made from meat that I cannot identify and vegetables that are overcooked. However, the onus is on me, I should have booked a better meal.

Anyway, a zillion things are running through my mind. The semester portfolio that I have to hand in for writing and editing being one of them. My heart stops every time I think about it. I do not have the greatest confidence in myself as a writer and blogging seems like a punishment more than a fun activity, but I must soldier on!

But, before I do that, a trip to Pick ‘n’ Pay is in order. I need the walk to calm my nerves. When I arrive, I instinctively go to the aisles that will provide me with important supplies. Cereal. Check. Milk. Check. Chocolate. Check. Tea. Check, check, check!

When I get to the till, I whisper a prayer in my heart to make sure that there is enough money on my debit card after I enjoyed a little shopping spree from the day before. Cringe!

Even though I am anxious, the teasers on the covers of “You” and “Grazia” magazine hold my attention. I am so tempted to pick one of them up but before I do, I scan my surroundings to make sure that no one from the journalism department is nearby. I grab Grazia hesitantly and give it to the cashier who is looking at me impatiently for my indecisiveness.

Inside I am embarrassed but I feel less insecure when I know that my guilty pleasures are stuffed in the plastic bag. I cannot wait to get to my room and indulge in all of the latest gossip.

So, I know what you are thinking. I am shallow. I have a fat assignment waiting for me yet here I am reading junk. But it is all I can do to distract me from the work that awaits me. At least I am not at the Rat and Parrot okay?

I am not the ideal writing and editing student. While most of my peers are either reporting for the student newspapers or steadily building their portfolios by working at reputable media houses. I am clicking away at E! Entertainment Online or HollywoodLife.com.

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy a good book and the last one I read which I must say inspired me was the Catcher in the Rye. I love books that make you think but the setting also has to be right. It has to be in a situation where I am calm and not anxious (I have General Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Reading tabloid magazines is a kind of escape from the world that requires me to persevere against all odds.

I do read the articles with a lot of caution and often criticise the nonsense I have just read. I despise Hollywood’s obsession with celebrity moms who have managed to lose their baby weight in a matter of weeks and although I watch their show religiously, I cannot keep up with abundance of Kardashian selfies on instagram.

Tabloids are synonymous with superficiality and trash, however there is something about the design that they use to grab your attention. Let me be clear, I will only buy these magazines when I am in need of a moment to not use my brain cells, otherwise I do consume matter that is more wholesome and informative and useful.

At home however, it is the same. Instead of clicking the remote to find eNCA I will be watching the Style Network or yep you guessed it, E! Entertainment. Fashion Police is my favourite.

To balance the equation, Sunday evenings at 7pm are reserved for Carte Blanche. I have the upmost respect for the quality of investigative journalism that they produce.

I often feel that I am not worthy to be a Rhodes journalism student because of my interests in tabloids and celebrity news. I console myself with the fact that it is not my dream to work for any tabloid magazine or newspaper. I want to produce material that can engage readers critically even if it is in the realm of lifestyle reporting.

I believe that this is possible because let’s be real, the rate at which myself and others consume this kind of news is not healthy and I want to show the world why. I want to help people turn their focus to things that do matter like the benefits of having dinner at the table with your whole family or how social media is turning us more into narcissists.

I know, I sound like a hypocrite but when I read this junk, I do know how to distinguish between the things that matter and the things that don’t. I hope for more growth and maturity as a reader and as a writer so you could say that this is part of the process 🙂

A solution would be to stop reading these magazines all together, which is what I have been considering lately. A new chapter in my life has begun and I need to meet it with a fresh attitude. Growth is on the horizon and when I get my degree I want to be a writer with integrity and I writer that I can be proud of.