Owning books can change the path of a child’s life

Books spark and support the responsive, warm, playful caregiver interactions that young children need to grow and thrive.

When children have books at home from a very young age, they develop better vocabulary, early literacy and social skills – and this early advantage becomes more powerful as they grow.

Yet in South Africa, two-thirds of homes with young children do not have a single picture book. Millions of children around the world are in the same boat, missing out on all the proven benefits of owning books.

At Book Dash, we work to turn that around. Through a unique model, and partnerships with creative professionals and community-based organisations, we’re realising the vision that every child should own a hundred books by the age of five.

Book Dash is a social impact publisher of open, African picture books for very young children. We tackle the complex systems that make owning books inaccessible to most children. Using a unique, replicable model, we create, translate, print and distribute high-quality books to preschool children and their families to own.

About Book Dash and our Theory of Change 

Help change the world

1 Read and share our books

You can freely read, download, adapt and even print and distribute our books. If you have children in your life, read to them every day from our free library. If you’re an organisation based in South Africa and our books could add value to your work, see if you’re what we’re looking for in Distribution Partner, or e-mail us to see what books we have in stock. If you’re not in South Africa, check out our guidelines for printing the books in your own country!

Visit our online library 

2 Fund our work

Funding enables us to do what we do best: boost literacy and early development through book-creation and widescale distribution to the youngest children. You’re also funding the promotion of our world-first model that challenges systems that aren’t designed to underserved communities. As we get stronger, we’re growing whole ecosystems with us, developing the people and channels that can ensure we get books in every child’s hands and homes.

Find out how you can help 

3 Help us create more books

Writers, illustrators and designers in South African can apply to one of our ‘Book Dash’ events to experience the 12-hour model in action! Outside South Africa? Learn how to run your own book-making event with our Book Dash Manual and support from our team, or create translations of our stories in your language.

Get involved 

Early book ownership is a lever for change

Why focus on early book ownership? It’s widely understood that investing in early childhood development is a best practice when looking for high-impact change. It’s the window of quickest development for a child and their future trajectory depends on these early foundations. Extensive research done in varied contexts points to a common phenomenon: When children own books at home, they experience significant developmental gains.

That’s why we see it as a key lever for social and economic change to get books into every child’s home, during that key window of early development. However, the way book publishing and distribution had traditionally been done excluded the majority and especially the impoverished. We needed to imagine better, fairer ways to get books to children, and fast.

The impact of early book ownership 

We need new ways to publish

The Book Dash model drastically reduces the time and cost to create, print and distribute beautiful, diverse books. Creatives volunteer their time and talent. We source funds for the print costs. Partners in literacy, early learning and healthcare get books to children and support their use. We’ve published hundred of titles, and distributed millions of copies. Our open-licensed books are used in early development and parenting programmes around the world. We’ve documented the model so that anyone can use, adapt or learn from it to get books to the children and families who can benefit most.

About our model