Moved by the plight of young learners struggling to read, Taryn Lock gave up her corporate job and, with her husband, co-founded Read to Rise, an NGO that allows access to high quality, age-appropriate books for young learners in disadvantaged communities.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children” – Nelson Mandela.

This is the mantra by which Taryn Lock lives, believing that reading is the foundational skill required before any other formal learning can take place.

Lock believes that by helping children to read they can rise in their personal development and make a substantial contribution to society.

The NGO focuses on learners in Mitchells Plain and plans to expand operations to other communities in the future.

Self-financed and assisted by donations and sponsorships, Read to Rise has two programmes: a Book Ownership Programme that aims to inspire children to read by visiting them in the classrooms, reading with them and then giving them their own book to take home; and a Classroom Mini-Library Programme, which places mini-libraries of 45 new, government-approved reading books in classrooms.

“In 2013 we distributed 2 000 new books to primary school learners. This year, we hope to visit every primary school in Mitchells Plain and give a book to every grade two learner (8 000 learners), and place a classroom Mini-Library in every grade two class. In total we plan to distribute about 17 000 books,” says Lock.

“In addition to inspiring our youth to read, we hope to strengthen the social fabric of our communities by bringing people together to collaborate and support each other. I’ve been excited by the positive response so far among friends, families, teachers, principals, suppliers, donors, supporters and volunteers.

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing the children smile when I give them a book, hearing from a parent about how much their child enjoys reading our book or hearing from a volunteer reader about how uplifting the experience reading to children was. Knowing that I am making a difference in people’s lives keeps me inspired and wanting to do more.

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About the Author

Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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