In May 2021, Cadbury Dairy Milk announced its intention to help inspire a love for reading amongst children across South Africa by making stories in their home languages more accessible. Now, through the inherent generosity of the South African public, more than 20 000 words have been translated into local African languages and used to co-author more than 450 new enchanting stories for children to enjoy in their mother tongue.
Drawing on the words of Nelson Mandela: ”when we read, we are able to travel to many places, meet many people and understand the world…”. Many literacy experts agree and state that when children learn to read in their mother tongues, it’s much easier to build on that foundation and broaden their learning experience.
“The importance of giving children the opportunity to read in their home language resonated with us. So, when we saw that the Publishers Association SA survey showed that only 2% of children books published commercially in South Africa are in local African languages*, we set out to change this with the launch of the ‘In Our Own Words initiative’. Cadbury Dairy Milk committed to an ambitious goal of creating 1 500 new stories for children in all African languages by 2023. Just three months after launching, we are already almost a third of the way there thanks to our partners, Nal’iBali, their committed authors as well as the public who once again answered the call and generously contributed their words to bring the In Our Own Words initiative to life,” says Lara Sidersky, Mondelez SA Category Lead for Chocolate.
The initiative called on South Africans to translate just one word and help Cadbury Dairy Milk co-author a library of enchanting children’s stories. “Partnerships with organisations and the public are key to achieving our goal,” adds Sidersky. Nal’iBali, and their team of enthusiastic authors, who believe that a well-established culture of reading can be a real game-changer for education in South Africa, were integral to writing and illustrating the stories available through the In Our Own Words initiative.
“Nal’iBali share our vision of significantly impacting the next generation by inspiring a genuine lifelong love for reading and creating worlds children can relate to,” continues Sidersky. This shared vision resulted in localised stories set in cities children recognise and characters they can relate to. And it is this sense of familiarity that stimulates the imagination, increases enjoyment and ultimately ignites a child’s lifelong love for reading.
These stories have already started to filter into the virtual In Our Own Words library. Here, they are easily accessible for download for children across the country to enjoy in an African language of their choice.
Equally exciting is the production of the first 45 000 printed Cadbury Dairy Milk Glass & A Half SA Story Collection storybooks containing a selection of the newly crafted stories. These are currently being distributed nationally through beneficiaries including, early childhood development (ECD) centres and children’s homes.
Sidersky concludes, ”In the coming months there will be more opportunities for South Africans to help us reach, and no doubt exceed, the goal of 500 stories for this year. The extension of this initiative will link to Cadbury Dairy Milk’s festive campaign, with generosity as the core expression when we ask the public to share the gift of words.”
The In Our Own Words initiative is only the start of Cadbury Dairy Milk’s journey to co-author, print, distribute and inspire with stories in all 11 South African languages. A journey, which is intended to enrich lives, spark a love for reading and hopefully contribute towards raising the level of literacy in South Africa.