Book Dash is an online book hub that gathers creative volunteers – a writer, an illustrator and a designer – to create new African storybooks for children. Anyone can freely access the books online to print, translate and distribute. The latest dash happened in April and almost a dozen new books are available at bookdash.org right now – including one by legendary writer Sindiwe Magona.
This dash, held in Cape Town, targeted very young kids and the books are simple and visually compelling. Below are my four favourites.
Wiggle Jiggle was written by Mathapelo Mabaso, illustrated by Megan Vermaak and designed by Chenél Ferreira. It’s available in English, isiXhosa and Sesotho.
It educates children about the stages a caterpillar goes through before it becomes a beautiful butterfly.
It teaches them about the food a caterpillar ingests and that its waste acts as a form of compost that gives nutrients to the ground and helps flowers grow big.
SHHHHH! by Sam Wilson is illustrated by Alex Latimer and designed by Anita van der Merwe. It’s a joyful and witty book full of noise for reading aloud.
Baby is asleep and mum is shushing everything that makes a noise. The book teaches the little ones the different sounds made by different objects and helps them identify colours, modes of transport and objects used to play.
It also teaches them different animal sounds.
Doggy wants to play, but Baby is scared, but then along came Woof-Woof by Magona, illustrated by Nicolene Louw and designed by Christelle Grobler.
Available in all South Africa’s languages, Woof-Woof is a story that educates children about the interaction between humans and animals, and how to read your pet’s moods.
It gives children comfort in allowing their pet to come close to them and not thinking that the pet will attack them. It also shows that parents should be around their children at all times.
The child should be able to communicate with the pet and not be harsh, but polite.
Where is the baby? Hello Baby is a multilingual question and answer book with the goal of finding the baby.
Written by Diane Awerbuck, illustrated by Demi-Sue Meyer and designed by Christian Jaggers, it is also available in all our languages with the aim of teaching babies how to greet someone in all of them.
The whereabouts of the child is also asked in different languages and there’s a multilingual goodbye at the end.
The images help children identify animals that live in the wild, and also identify the colours and shapes of the animals. The book helps the young ones grow up and be able to communicate with one another, proving how important it is to know as many languages as possible.