When we were presented with the Joy of Reading Award in June this year, we wanted to find ways to share the good fortune with our readers and writers. So, we decided to turn September – traditionally our ‘Literacy Month’ with so many literacy and book-related events and festivals – into our ‘Joy of Reading’ month, to acknowledge and celebrate our readers and writers, the learners and friends we reach.

Our Joy Of Reading month tied in with International Literacy Day (8 September) on which we were also able to celebrate our acceptance of another international award: the UNESCO Confucius Prize for Literacy. So, it really was a month of celebrations.

Our campaign was a hit! 30 giveaways in as many days!

Each day, FunDza gave away a book to a lucky recipient, whether they were an attendee at a workshop, an online reader commenting on a story, a Fanz writer, a FunDza ‘Family’ beneficiary, a participant in our online ‘Joy of Reading’ course, or our most improved Fanz writer! The FunDza offices in Muizenberg was much like a post office with packages leaving to go all over the country, sending our readers and writers something exciting to read and enjoy.

With National Book Week in full swing as well as Open Book Festival, our #JoyOfReading campaign and #Giveaways just added to the festivities. It even caught the eye of CAPS Radio, where I was interviewed to talk about why FunDza was running the campaign.

The recipients of the prizes were overjoyed at receiving something new to read, and theirs to keep. See our happy readers and some comments below!

#1 Lethabo Kgwele from Diepsloot says she learned new words and loved feeling included. She loved receiving a new book to read and is a keen reader!

#4 Nazli Abrahams – FunDza’s Sonja bumped Nazli at the airport, who recognised Sonja from a previous workshop! FunDza meets in the skies! Nazli recalls how she once stayed up all night, reading not one but TWO Harmony High books from her reading club!

#7 Thsepang Molisana was one of the winners of our ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ competition last year, and her winning piece, Homeless, has been published in FunDza’s latest print anthology #CantStopReading. She says that having her writing recognised inspires her to write more for FunDza, and we hope she does!

#10 Retang Phaahla is from Siyaphila and is one of FunDza’s WriteSmart facilitators. She’s said that WriteSmart has been very beneficial and inspiring to the learners. Happy reading!

#13 Busi Paliso (left) attended an event hosted by National Book Week in Port Elizabeth. Sive from FunDza held a workshop and Busi was happy to receive the book prize! She said “I am so happy, excited and proud of myself because I have achieved something”.

#16 Hutamo attended the National Book Week event in Polokwane and was overjoyed to receive a book. Hutamo is not new to FunDza, she knows some of the poems already! Keep reading!

#19 Junior Manqele attended an event in Itsoseng where Ndibulele was representing FunDza. He said he likes the motivating stories he reads on FunDza and that it encourages him to follow his dreams.

#22 Chireki Saurombe is a keen writer and avid fundza.mobi user. Any and all stories, she comments. She really flies the FunDza flag! When she submits her work for our mobi site, she says “I have a place to offload without anyone judging me.”

#25 Mantombi Mokhoeyais one of our competition winners – scoring over 70% in the course! She was over the moon to be a winner and is going to use her prize money to buy her favourite books!

#28 Natifa Koornaar was another of our competition winners, scoring over 70% on the course. She was thrilled to be a winner and tells us she’ll use her prize money towards her writing and maybe getting published!

#2 Reabetswe Maboea from Johannesburg loved the creative writing exercise and her character was a girl who snuck out at night to break into a local library to read!

#5 Mogale Mofokeng from Thaba Jabula Secondary School in Soweto loved the creative writing exercises. He said “Free writing is a power to unleash the creativity that is in you.” The FunDza notebooks given away were quickly filled with handwritten stories.

#8 Cynthia Zulu from New Model Private College in Doornfontein, Johannesburg was overheard saying during a creative writing workshop “We’ll make the reader wonder…” when she was working on a group activity. Watching the learners have their imaginations come alive makes our workshops that much more exciting!

#11 Musa Mabyeni attended the Open Book Festival event at Kuyasa Library in Khayelitsha. Musa is a rapper and poet, and assures us he will be sending in his own writing soon!

#14 Hlumisa Pinyana (right) attended National Book Week in PE, where FunDza was hosting a workshop with FunDza’s Sive Sibenya. Hlumisa was thrilled to be a winner! She said “Winning feels like a victory after winning a 100km race against Caster Semenya”

#17 Jami-Lee (left) from Laerskool Kakamas in Northern Cape said “We read love in the class but not for pleasure. It’s good to know that there stories and books are for this purpose”. Enjoy, Jami-Lee!

#20 Nontsikelelo Dawethi attended National Book Week in Itsoseng (North West) and Ndibulele gave her the book prize. She was excited and said “Finally, I’ll have interesting stories to read!”

#23 Lubabalo Qumba is a keen commentor and FunDza fanz writer. He says “FunDza has helped me find my passion, I have never been treated with such respect.Thank you for doing your best to give the best guidance as an aspiring writer”.

#26 Sisipho Ngcenge from Burgersfort, Limpopo is also one of our competition winners! Scoring over 70% on the course, she was thrilled to win and is putting her prize money towards her studies.

#29 Linda Malone is from BEST college, one of FunDza’s beneficiaries. She says “Our learners can’t get enough of FunDza books. We have teenagers who have never read at all, now queuing up for new books!”

#3 Alinah Botopela attended a Help2Read workshop in Gauteng. She found it really helpful and will apply what she learned at her school reading groups.

#6 Enjoying the Open Book Festival with 32 students from False Bay College (Khayelitsha and Fish Hoek campuses) was a blast! Thank you to Book Lounge and for having us at all at the festival. So much to see, read and learn. Read more about this here.

#9 Verushjka Swartz from Laingsburg High School loved having Tamica and Dawn from the FunDza offices host a workshop at the school. She said “It was fun to get to know the FunDza people. They’ve made my day and inspired me to keep on following my dreams”. Verushjka has since been in touch with us to submit her writing.

#12 Busi Dayimani is a beneficiary from Ikamva Youth and has said that receiving the books from FunDza has been a gift to her learners vocabulary and that the books are youthful and engaging.

#15 Matlala attended an event by National Book Week in Polokwane where Veronica and Ndibulele from FunDza held a workshop. Matlala said it was so lovely to see so many come and take part, simply because they enjoy reading. Keep reading!

18# Noluthando (right) from Kakamas School attended a National Book Week event that FunDza was part of. She said “Many kids don’t actually read, except at school so this is good”.

#21 Hulani Mthiya attended the Reading to Learn conference in Pietermaritzburg. Dianne Stewart represented FunDza at this event and met with lots of inspired and driven individuals.

#24 One of our competition winners! Milisa Tshemese completed the course and scored above 70%. “It feels amazing to win! I am going to use the money for school fees and I want to pay for my dance classes”.

#27 Sithethelele Bekwa from Umthatha is one of our competition winners, scoring over 70% on the course! He is so happy to be a winner! He is using the money towards getting his drivers license.

#30 Last but not least! Patrick Mtshikiva from rural Madibeng in the North West province (yes, we reaching the far corners!) was beyond excited to get his FunDza package and couldn’t wait to start reading the new books!