NPO creates 10 children’s books in one day



BOOK Dash, the early reader publishing nonprofit, hosted its twentieth bookmaking event at Kloof on Saturday, October 29.

Thirty creatives donated their time to create 10 children’s books in 12 hours, on the campus of the Toyota Wessels Institute for Manufacturing (TWIMS). Book Dash has spawned 176 books using its book-making methodology, at two rotating annual events in major cities across the country.

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Julia Norrish, Executive Director of Book Dash, says: “Our vision is that every child should own 100 books by the age of five. We have books available for free on our website, for anyone anywhere in the world. Then we raise funds to print and distribute physical copies to South African families who cannot afford books.

To date, the nonprofit has printed and distributed nearly three million books to South African children.

Creating a children’s book is usually a months-long project, which means completing a 32-page full-color book in one day isn’t a challenge for the faint-hearted. Book Dash events are described as the Olympics of creativity. The caliber of creative professionals is high and some writers, designers and illustrators have won Loerie awards, international competitions and recognition.

“Our creatives may not be known, but they are often prestigious in their field. We allow them to use their professional skills, because they use what they already know how to do and what they like to do. It’s just the most amazing vibe because it’s extremely creative, but everyone’s there for the same reason: to use their skills for something good,” says Norrish.

Animator Jess Jardim-Wedepohl assists the Durban creatives on their mission to create a children’s book in just 12 hours. Photo: Sandwood.

The NPO’s mission is to make affordable, high-quality books that children can own. Every detail is considered, right down to uniform book sizes, designed to be efficient to print with minimal wasted paper.

Research supports book ownership, which inspires children to seek out learning opportunities, with long-term benefits. According to research, 93% of South African households own less than 10 books and 58% have no hobby books at home.

Norrish says, “We make books for everyone, but specifically for families who can’t afford them. Our books may not be produced by commercial publishers as they depend on the end user purchasing the book, so it is who is portrayed in their stories. We represent an audience that does not buy books. Our audience is made up of small children who are not yet in school. The books are a way for them to feel brave and safe, to see themselves and their homes represented (instead of a castle or mansion), in a story told in their language.

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Although the physical distribution of Book Dash books is limited to SA, the books on the website are openly licensed.

“Anyone in the world can reuse, share, print, adapt and translate the books. There are no barriers to accessing content. They are translated into multiple languages, used on every continent, integrated into educational materials, with lessons built around them, or adapted into animated videos and games for young children – at no cost to the user of the content or the end user. We realized that we would not reach all the children on our own.

For more information send an e-mail [email protected].

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