Does publishing have an age limit?

11 year-old author lends his voice to end the chapter on illiteracy in SA

When you are an NPO focussed on combatting illiteracy, what could be more exciting than having 11 year-old newly published South African author, Amr Salie as your ambassador!

Signature of Hope Trust (SOHT) is proud to announce that this bright youngster will add his voice to the organisation’s drive to close the chapter on the nation’s devastatingly high levels of illiteracy. South Africa has the lowest score for reading literacy out of 50 countries globally. By sharing Amr’s story about how his life is enriched by books, the Trust hopes to inspire children to find a love of words through their literacy campaigns and book drives. “We are supporting children to discover that if they understand the meaning of the words they are reading, they can reach further, higher and faster – no matter who they are or where they come from,” says Natalie Philander, GM of SOHT. “Literacy opens up new possibilities, incredible opportunities and a thirst for knowledge. In 2018 our main focus is on providing books, encouraging volunteer readers and opening up literacy centres in the most disadvantaged communities.

Signature of Hope made headlines last year by being part of South African hero, adventurer and philanthropist Chris Bertish’s fundraising journey that saw him cross the Atlantic Ocean on a stand-up paddle to raise funds for The Lunchbox Fund and Operation Smile. “Our key focus is always on children and helping communities break the cycle of poverty through sustainable efforts,” says Philander. We started a book drive last year while we were raising funds, and knew that literacy was going to be a key focus from 2018 and beyond. It is a life-changing intervention and a joy to share a love of words and books – whether online, as newspaper supplements, or volunteers helping children to read books in communities. There is so much we can all do to reduce illiteracy in SA.”

Amr Salie is a super-hero of a different kind and his will to help SA to conquer the dark forces of illiteracy are just what children need to look up to. Young Amr himself was inspired by RL Stine’s popular Goosebumps children’s horror series and spent a year writing his first book “Blameless”, based on a dream that his imagination conjured up while he slept. It’s a thriller that deals with topics such as the influence of the mind and how easily we can be deceived.

Amr’s mother, Maryam Salie says that her son’s love for reading is understated – “It is far more than just a love of novels and fictional series – Amr would read everything from game reviews to product reviews – he gets lost in books such as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and got his hands on some old Stephen King novels. But what really struck a chord with me was watching him reading deep religious texts and history books.’ While Amr is undoubtedly a gifted young boy who is also a certified coder who excels in maths and science, he is still an 11 year-old and all children should have dreams about their future. Amr wants to own a gaming company and develop apps. He is writing his second novel and horror/thriller. His mom says there is no professional guidance, he writes out of pure love and instinct. “It’s quite intense and I have the pleasure of reading it on email when he completes each chapter.”

Amr dreams big, and Signature of Hope believes that all children should open their minds to dreaming big. “What will help them reach those dreams is knowledge; and that starts with understanding the words in books,” says Philander.

‘The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study’ released in December 2017, was based on measuring the literacy levels of Grade 4 pupils during 2011 and 2016 with outcomes that have raised concerns over the quality of South Africa’s education.

The Signature of Hope Trust believes literacy at primary school level is the most cost- effective investment in the fight against poverty and poor educational achievement. 

To follow SOH, or to donate or volunteer go to www.signatureofhope.org