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Concepts of Reading in South African Promotion Campaigns

Elizabeth Le Roux


Amid ongoing concerns about the reading decline, the lack of a “reading culture” and children not reading enough, a variety of solutions are put forward, largely in the form of reading promotion campaigns. These campaigns are seldom sustainable, usually owing to sporadic funding. However, this paper considers whether another factor that affects the sustainability of such campaigns has to do with how they are conceptualised, and whether it is a mismatch between aims and outcomes. Working from a theoretical perspective of the social uses of literacy, the paper examines discourses around reading and how they reflect certain dominant ideologies, social meanings and values. Based on a content analysis of the main publicity, communications and speeches associated with some of the dominant reading promotion campaigns in South Africa, the paper examines the words and images being used to promote reading, and how these affect the evaluation of such reading campaigns.


reading campaigns; social uses of literacy; metaphors of reading

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