The National Reading Coalition (NRC) is a coordinating structure where all reading initiatives and interested stakeholders can come together to share knowledge and successful learning experiences. The NRC was established by the National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) and the Department of Basic Education (DBE) as a comprehensive national response to the reading challenges facing South Africa. The NRC is coordinating the development and implementation of a comprehensive national reading improvement strategy. The NRC functions as an agile, self-sustaining network of reading initiatives.

How Will The National Reading Coalition Improve Reading?

The NRC will improve reading though implementing activities around six value chain areas.

Each area is led by an expert convenor and a departmental champion.

Reference groups have been established to support convenors and champions in a collaborative manner.

How Does The National Reading Coalition Work?

The NRC works in four ways:


  • Establish book clubs in communities.

  • Hold read-aloud sessions at work and at home.

  • Set aside time for reading for pleasure.

  • Participate in inter-generational reading.

  • Participate in reading and writing competitions.

  • Collect and distribute books in your communities.

How To Start A Book Club

“When you sell a man a book you don’t sell just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue — you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night — there’s all heaven and earth in a book, a real book.” —Christopher Morle

Five Steps to Starting a Book Club

  • Is the purpose of your Book Club to read or to socialize?
  • Do you want to read a specific genre, bestsellers, high literature, etc.?
  • Browse Reading Guides by Genre:
    •  Bestsellers
    • Memoir
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Romance
    • Classics
    • Contemporary
    • Poetry
    • Short stories
  • What Type of books should be emphasised?
    • Well-known works
    • Lesser-known works
    • Both

Do you want to meet in someone’s home, in a public space, in an online forum, through a blog or website, etc.? How often do you want to meet? Once a month is the standard, but if you plan on reading longer books you may want to meet every 6 weeks.

The ideal size of a Book Club is between 8 and 16 members. A great way to gather a large diverse group is to invite 3-5 people and ask each of them to invite 3 or 4 friends.

Gather everyone together to discuss the first book option, meeting location and time, how the Book Club will be run, and the goals for the Book Club. Bring one or two options for meeting times and the first book. Take a vote if you would like to have everyone involved in the decision-making process.

Before the first book club meeting

  • Finish reading your book (Mark any interesting passages you might want to discuss.)

  • Prepare Discussion Questions and/or book related activities

  • Confirm meeting location

  • Send out a reminder notification to all members of the meeting time and place

  • Prepare/buy snacks (if you want to munch on snacks during your discussion)

  • Enjoy your first Book Club Meeting!

At the First Book Club Meeting Important to do:

At your first meeting, set down your rules and guidelines.

Will you be serving food at each meeting? Will wine be allowed? How many members will make up the group?

Make sure everyone agrees to honour the mission of the club. One of the rules that should be highly stressed is that members should come to each meeting having read the ENTIRE book. This ensures that no one gives away the ending.

Decide on what day and time best fits with the schedules of the members. Plan at least 6 months in advance and stick to the dates and times. It will be extremely difficult to continually have to change the schedule to accommodate everyone’s busy lives. If someone can’t make it, that’s their decision and should not upset the apple cart.

Will one person be the leader for all the meetings or will this responsibility be rotated among the members? How much background information should be presented?

How are you going to select the books? Will each monthly leader select his/her book for their specific month? Will you set aside one meeting a year to discuss possible choices presented by all the members and select one for each month from the titles that are on the table? Once the books are selected, members should refrain from initially complaining about the selection. They can complain only after reading the entire work.

There will always be a member who breaks in while another person is speaking. Most often, this is because the person is very enthusiastic about the conversation. Try to control interruptions by asking the person to hold the thought until the other speaker has finished his/her thought.

Some members are more outgoing than others. Cut short a longwinded member using tact. Make sure that everyone has a chance to contribute to the lively discussion. Engage more reserved members by posing open-ended questions but don’t badger those who do not want to participate.

If members start to wander off the subject, bring them back to the topic at hand. Members should contribute to the flow of the discussion by keeping personal references to a minimum.

Whenever necessary, rephrase a member’s comments or question so that everyone understands what is being asked. Be open, learn from the thoughts of others and always acknowledge that members will have different opinions about a subject. Everyone should have the opportunity to offer new thoughts.

Happy Reading and #ReadingRevolution