At FunDza we are very excited about our new ‘funzine’ for reading clubs – a magazine-book publication full of poems, stories, articles and plays that have been enjoyed on the Fundza mobi site. It is different from our other anthologies, not only in size, but also in look – for the first time we have included illustrations, and also have more detailed and varied activities. The back of the book is a double-page spread of session outlines of how to use the material in reading clubs or classrooms. The first funzine – entitled Double Trouble and much much more – has just been delivered to FunDza’s Family groups around the country to be used as part of their reading programmes.

We have written about this publication before here, but given its newness, we have not yet had any concrete feedback from users. So we were interested to see how facilitators would take to it.

We hosted a whistle-stop morning training session run at FunDza offices, and attended by reading club leaders from Legacy Community Development in Stellenbosch, Vrygrond Reading club and The Sozo Foundation in Vrygrond, Sakhisiwe in Hout Bay, and Masiphumelele Library, to find out…

The verdict: 5 stars!

The texts worked well in inspiring discussion, debate and writing amongst the facilitators themselves. There were murmurs of disapproval at the behaviour of Refilwehape’s grandfather as we read the first piece together, and murmurs of admiration at the end of the poem ‘The Tsonga Me’ that we read out and then performed. The discussion topics and writing activities brought out participants’ own personal stories, and they agreed that the topics and level would probably work well with their learners. They also found the session plans (at the back of the book) a helpful guide. As usual, we did quite a few examples of warm-up/ice-breakers, which are always popular. So it was a lovely session – just too short!

We also used the funzine in training for both Year Beyond tutors (who work in seven high schools in Cape Town, and use FunDza material for their English programme) as well as a new programme we are part of, which is the PROTEC Saturday school programme in Port Elizabeth and Tshwane. The teachers who will be running this latter programme were very excited about the funzine, and about FunDza material in general.

As FunDza faciliators we obviously had it easier than these facilitators and teachers will – these were groups of responsive and involved adults – not rowdy young teens who may have many other things on their mind! So we are keen to hear from our facilitators how these funzine sessions are going. From initial feedback from the Year Beyond Programme, it seems that the funzine material is being enjoyed, with tutors reporting that learners are responding positively to the texts and activities. However it is early days… watch this space!