Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award

PRAESA is honoured to be the recipient of the 2015 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award (ALMA), awarded to individuals or institutions for their long-term commitment to growing a love of reading in children.

The ALMA jury’s citation reads:

With the joy of reading as its compass point, PRAESA opens new routes into the world of books and literature for young readers in South Africa. Through innovative reading and storytelling projects, PRAESA brings people together and brings literature in multiple languages alive. PRAESA´s outstanding work shows the crucial role of books and stories in creating rich lives for children and young people.

The announcement of the award, administered by the Swedish Arts Council, said:

For more than twenty years, PRAESA has made powerful, innovative moves to highlight literature as a key component of both personal and societal development, always grounded in the specific conditions of South African society and culture. Its work focuses on encouraging children to read for enjoyment, building their self-esteem, and helping them connect to their native language through reading and story.

PRAESA has three core goals: to provide children with high-quality literature in the various South African languages; to collaborate with and foster new networks among publishers and organisations that promote reading; and to initiate and carry out activities that can help sustain a living culture of reading and storytelling in socially vulnerable communities. PRAESA works in constant dialogue with the latest research and in collaboration with volunteers at the grass roots level.

To encourage children to read in their native languages, PRAESA produced the Little Hands books, a series of short books in different African languages. Another project, the Vulindlela Reading Club, combined oral storytelling with reading, singing games, and dramatizations, and led to the formation of many more reading clubs in Cape Town and other provinces. The national reading promotion initiative Nal’ibali is a network of reading clubs that uses media campaigns to encourage children to read and inspire parents, grandparents, and teachers to read with them.

Download Carole Bloch’s Acceptance speech

Download Kirsten Boie’s Laureate speech

Watch our ALMA award ceremony

IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award

In 2014, PRAESA was awarded the IBBY-Asahi Reading Promotion Award. Initiated by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) and sponsored by Japanese newspaper company the Asahi Shimbun, the award is presented biennially to two groups or institutions whose activities promote reading among children and young people. PRAESA was nominated for the award by IBBY Sweden for its work in children’s multilingual literacy development.

In her acceptance speech at the Papalote Children’s Museum in Mexico City, PRAESA Executive Director Carole Bloch said:

The following core principles have guided us over the years: Firstly, the same kind of enriched and inspiring conditions that encourage English-speaking children to become engaged readers and writers are the same ones that African-language speakers need. This should be self-evident, but it isn’t. In our work we are countering the low-level expectations of the education system for millions of bright, young African-language speakers as they enter and progress through primary school. Secondly, nurturing a love of stories offers us all enjoyable inroads lifelong learning journeys. The hegemonic pressure of schooling to deliver measurable skills, however, has led to a loss of appreciation for the deep educational value of stories. We are reviving the value of narrative as an essential part of not just education but also community and home settings.


IBBY-Asahi Flyer

herald story

Herald article

Press release

Reading Hall of Fame

In 2017, Carole Bloch was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame, a body that aims to contribute to the improvement of teaching of reading globally from the collective experiences of its members. Nomination is by an existing member, in recognition of more than 25 years of recognised, impactful work in the field.