Boxes of books go free to local kids

Learners from Muizenberg Junior School are receiving free books from Little Zebra Books in any two languages of their choice. The books are handed out at the assembly point where the learners board their transport.

Buyiselwa Magama and Gillian Basson from the bookshop hand out boxes of books to each of the drivers of the transport to distribute among the learners.

“When we started we were handing them out to the children but it was complete chaos. Now we hand the box to each driver and they hand it out to the learners in their transport. Now that we are doing this, it is working much better,” says Buyiselwa.

The drivers know the learners by name and make sure that the books are passed out correctly.

“Kids who have not signed up for the books can take home a form for their parents to sign and they will start receiving a book the next month,” she says.

In addition to the books distributed at MJS, other parents come by the shop each month to pick up a new book for their child.

Each month the children receive a full-colour bilingual book (in English and one other language of their choice).

Currently the books are published in all South African languages, as well as Shona. Any parent or caregiver can sign up their child by visiting the Little Zebra Bookshop in Muizenberg.

Little Zebra Books governing board chairperson, Minah Koela, knows first-hand the impact of these books, since her children are enrolled in the book club. “Reading books with your kids is the best way for them to get ahead in life in terms of their education. But it is also a way for you to connect with them. You really feel close to your children when you read to them. I’m Xhosa, so having one of the Little Zebra Books that are in Xhosa and in English help my kids to be strong in English and also be strong in Xhosa.”

Muizenberg resident Sean Meredith agrees, saying: “We spend 10 minutes per morning reading the LZB books for English and isiXhosa with our two boys. They are short enough to keep their attention and good enough to help us learn.”

All the books are designed and printed in the Little Zebra Bookshop. Basson is responsible for designing the bilingual editions­.

“We use our own design and layout for our bilingual editions. The text and artwork come from our partners at African Storybook­.”

This project was made possible through a grant from Version 1. According to programme manager Eleanor Ker, “Little Zebra Books is producing books for more than 120 children every month, and the number continues to grow”.

“We are also getting requests from across the country for these bilingual books. Unfortunately, funds have run out and we only have enough ink and paper to produce books for one more month.”

Little Zebra Books is a South African NPO producing illustrated mother tongue books for children in South Africa, Mozambique, and Angola. Learn more at littlezebrabooks.­com.

To sign up your child for the book club, or to learn more about how you can get involved, visit the Little Zebra Bookshop in Muizenberg. They are open Monday to Friday, from 13:00 to 17:00.

V Contact Eleanor on 074 309 0809 or at eleanor@­littlezebrabooks.com.