Do your bit to bring the joy of reading to the kids who need it most

07 March 2021 - 09:04 By Mila de Villiers
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The cover of the Sunday Times children's book.
PURE DELIGHT The cover of the Sunday Times children's book.
Image: Supplied

Literacy rates in SA are in dire straits. Early childhood development (ECD) attendance rates are the lowest they have been in 18 years, and the 2019 Progress in International Reading Literacy Study report says eight out of 10 grade 4 pupils cannot read for meaning in any language.

Enter the Sunday Times's collaboration with BookDash, a nonprofit publisher of new African children's books as a means to contribute to SA's literacy rate. Introducing children to stories and books from a young age is pivotal in nurturing a lifelong love of reading, curiosity and imagination.

Storytime: South African Stories for Children, published by Book Dash, consists of four delightfully illustrated tales, and we're offering 10 readers the opportunity to donate 2,000 copies of the book to deserving ECD centres, libraries and primary schools.

Sunday Times education consultant Patti McDonald, the inspiration and driving force behind the project, says: "It has been an amazing privilege to develop this Sunday Times Storytime book for young children, and we are donating all 10,000 copies to reading groups and charities who work on the frontline with those who have been the hardest hit by the Covid crisis.

"I hope this book will bring comfort, hope and family joy to those young ones who get to take them home where books are really needed. Sunday Times readers can also play their part by paying it forward and donating 10 books in their communities."

Says Book Dash MD Dorette Louw: "We do this because we want more books in the world so that more children can love reading. Sunday Times has a similar vision for literacy, and that's why we're so happy they've used four Book Dash stories in the compilation they're printing and giving away for free. The stories range from a cheeky little chicken who wants to fly, to a child who gently needs to be helped to sleep, to a spotty hyena who is worried he has lost his laugh. We hope the book will provide many joyous opportunities for parents and children to read together."

Arabella Koopman, the book's editor, says she wanted to "create a collection that was diverse in story theme and illustration style, and stories that would complement each other and resonate with three- to six- year- olds - and the adults who will read them to young children.

"The selected stories do just that, I think. They're about animals and people, about relationships with others and one's self, and they all talk to what it means to be human - which is a hallmark of all enduring stories." 

Be one of 200 readers to stand a chance of winning 10 Sunday Times Storytime books to donate to communities in need.

To do this, just send an e-mail to Patti McDonald at Please include the following information in your e-mail: The name of the institution to which you will donate the books; the name and area of your closest PostNet outlet; and your cellphone number. Deadline: March 31, 2021.

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