Re(a)defining their futures, one book at a time.

The first time I had the pleasure of working with the organization Book Dash was in 2015 when I still worked at the Goethe-Institut library. One Saturday afternoon, I was lucky enough to witness the magic that they create in a space of 12 hours. Basically they have events around South Africa where teams of volunteers made up of a writer, illustrator and designer work closely with an editor to create the amazing stories that reflect issues that South African children can relate to. These beautiful books come in all of the 11 languages and represent kids of all colours and walks of life.

The scenario on this particular day reminded me so much of my favourite advert that alerted me as a kid that Christmas was near. There’s this Bakers biscuit advert where the Bakers man together with an army of helpful  kids bake our favourite cookies that we find in the Choice Allsorted range that forms an important part of most South Africans December celebrations.  The little boys and girls jump around happily in the biscuit factory as they sing to the jingle “who can make the biscuits (especially for you) covered in chocolate the bakers man can” .This is before the security guard comes peeping in to find everything quiet but boxes of biscuits that, to his surprised have filled the room.

Luckily for the Book Dashers, they can sing and dance as much as they want.Pacing up and down or glued onto the screen you can just see that the volunteers take their job seriously. Laughter is heard all around the room, with the occasional “whoo hoo” as a teams does a celebration dance because they have just brought their protagonist come to life. The upbeat music overrides the sound of the hands of the clock which reminds the volunteers that time is ticking. The breakfast, lunch and dinner breaks (together with the more than occasional glass of wine) gives them a chance to meet new faces and catch up with familiar ones.

12 hours goes by and as the evening comes to a close, the hard work is presented for everyone to see. And as I stood there, trying to hold back the tears because I wish I had such books to read as a kid, I realized what beautiful amazing work they had just done. I know this is not said enough, So thank you to all the Book Dash volunteers that have become an important part in helping us build a reading nation.

I couldn’t be happier that Im working with Book Dash in using the funds collected from my project to buy their books. Book Dash has hosted several events around the country with the most recent one being at the Goethe-Institut with volunteers from  Sub-Saharan Africa as well as German author Kirstin Boie and illustrator Barbara Scholz.

I recently asked  my nephew and his crew (who can be seen in the picture) to stop playing their daily after school soccer match on the streets and come and read with me. I have to admit it took a bit of convincing but after I sold my soul top the devil,  I had the boys seated on our stoep, with the little Book Dash books.

Boy o boy, I didnt know what I had gotten myself into. The boys loved the books! They smiled and laughed as they tried to read the books and even narrated the stories by just looking at the pretty illustrations.5 minutes turned into 30 minutes of jokes, new lessons learnt and before we knew it, the scorching Ngwelezane sun had said its goodbyes without us noticing. As the street lights came on (this in the township is like the siren that tells all kids that its time to go home) and all of them said their “sharp, shos”, one of the boys asked “Nak’sasa uzobukhona futhi Anti?” (You will be here again tomorrow right Aunty? ) At that moment I knew that I had done my bit for the day

For those tech savvy friends, you can download all the books via the Google Play Store


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