Join us at the Open Publishing Fest on 11 November from 11:00 – 12:00 (South African time) for a session where three partner organisations will tell the story of how Book Dash’s open license and open approach helps them do their work.
It’s a truly global discussion, with participants from India, Papua New Guinea and Lebanon.
If you missed it, you can watch a recording of the event below
In proud partnership with the Open Publishing Fest. More details and view all the events at www.openpublishingfest.org or follow #openpublishingfest
Book Dash is thrilled to have been announced as the winner of the 2021 Nedbank Private Wealth Innovation Awards!
Book Dash was selected from among 150 organisations that applied, many of whom do really important work in the field, so we are humbled and grateful to be the winners.
Here’s what Nedbank had to say:
“Book Dash believes that every child should own 100 books by the age of five, and that this will uplift these children and eventually our society as a whole. Its innovative publishing model reduces the costs of publishing by approximately 80%, which means that it can offer books to donors and partners at R10 a copy. Book Dash was not deterred by the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic – in fact, 2020 marked the distribution of their one millionth book.
Book Dash has meticulously recorded its innovative model for book publishing from the onset so that other organisations can publish their books in the same way. Under the strict lockdown conditions, Book Dash decided to move its book-publishing model online, adapting to a virtual environment that allows volunteers from all over the country and the world to participate. They added this new model to their Manual so that others could iterate on this approach. There have been at least 10 instances of organisations using the Book Dash model to publish new books.
In addition to continuing with its innovative content creation methods, Book Dash collaborated with its distribution partners to donate books to families that were receiving food parcels and learning packs through these partners.”
The judges were also particularly impressed with our bold vision, lead by a lean team with low operating overheads and yet significant and sustained growth in impact year on year. They noted that the presence of reserve funds demonstrates efficient financial management and a resilient organisation that is ready to continue making a difference in the future.
The application process for the awards was great, with a well-constructed application form that allowed organisations to unpack the different elements of their work, and demonstrate their innovations and the rationale behind it. The feedback from the judging panel was also insightful and encouraging.
Nedbank’s recognition of the work we do at Book Dash, and of course the prize money, is appreciated by the whole organisation – staff, Board members, partners and beneficiaries alike. Their support for civil society organisations is incredibly valuable. With their help, we look forward to flooding the country with beautiful, fun, affordable African children’s books.
Read the press release from Nebank for more context and information: https://www.nedbankprivatewealth.co.za/content/private-wealth-sa/south-africa/en/info/innovation-winners-2021.html
Since our inception in 2014, Book Dash has published 140 original African storybooks for children, and translated them into a library of close to 500 titles. How much did we pay over the years in writer’s fees, illustration fees, design fees and editing fees? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. This astonishing fact is due to the generosity of the creative volunteers whose passion and skills are the powerful force that enables Book Dash to publish free books, and in doing so break down the barriers to literacy.
Our vision is that every child should own a hundred books by the age of five, so in addition to making the books freely available online, the printing and distribution of physical copies is crucial to our work. Because we don’t have to pay the creative volunteers for their work, we are able to publish our books at roughly 20% of traditional publishing costs. These savings mean that we can print and distribute an abundance of books, so that all children, regardless of their socio-economic position, can benefit from owning books. This year alone, we’ve been able to distribute 340,000 books to children, despite restrictions due to COVID-19.
So what motivates our superstar volunteers to give up 12 hours on a Saturday (some repeat offenders have given up three, four… six Saturdays over the years) to work very hard and make a free book in a team with other creatives? This is what a few of them have to say:
Ndumiso Nyoni (illustrator, three Book Dash events)
“I volunteer for Book Dash because I grew up on books, comics and cartoons but could never fully connect with the characters I loved, because they didn’t look or sound like me… Not only does Book Dash give me the opportunity to create books that will resonate with young African children, they also create and distribute the books for free to help improve child literacy throughout our continent. Knowing that there is an African child out there who is both learning to read and appreciate themselves for who they are, is the biggest achievement of my career and I am humbled and honoured to be a part of it.”
Sam Wilson (writer, seven Book Dash events)
“Literacy is a huge issue in South Africa. Book Dash creates books that are free online, and can be printed and sold by anyone. It’s an amazing way to give every child in South Africa their own books. And I get to do something I love for a great cause.”
So, salute our creative volunteers for their generosity by reading their Book Dash books with the children in your life (free on our website), and tell others about the books too. You can also follow your favourite Book Dash volunteers on their social media pages to see more of the amazing creative work that they do in their day jobs.
To get notified of when the next Book Dash event and call for applications is, join our mailing list here:
Every child should own a hundred books by the age of five, the research says so.
Giving children access to high-quality, relevant books is associated with positive behavioural, educational, and socio-emotional outcomes. Global and local research indicate time and again that children who own books before school have a measurable headstart on key developmental areas, and that learning differences are cemented before children enter formal schooling. The below report brings together this research, showing what impact “early years book ownership can make” to a child’s trajectory and chances of success. It is intended for use by anyone interested in improving literacy and developmental outcomes.
But book-ownership among South African children is shockingly low – 58% of households don’t own a single leisure book (SABDC, 2016) – and it has contributed to our literacy crisis as can be seen from the 2016 PIRLS results where 78% of the South African Grade 4 children could not read for meaning in any language (Howie, 2017). Illiteracy carries a huge cost to the economy (Gustafsson, 2010) and reputable, worldwide studies show that improving access to books for low-income children is a low-cost, high impact way of addressing the problem.
Conventional publishing models aren’t designed to create affordable books for all. This is where Book Dash comes in: to close the book-ownership gap, we need to give away 600 million books with the help of many partner organisations.
Research about the effects of book ownership
What we do at Book Dash is big and bold, but it is also evidence-based. Research findings shape what we believe, what we do, and how we do it. Here is some of the key research that forms our backbone.
Children who have a book of their own are 15 times more likely to read above the level expected for their age, than those who don’t own a book. (National Literacy trust, 2017)
Having books in the home gives children a measurable advantage at school, equal to 3.2 more years of schooling, even when controlled for other key factors such as income and parents’ education. (Evans et al, 2010.)
Access to books impacts positively on the reading achievement of economically disadvantaged children. (Newman, S. et al., 2000)
A home library can promote reading and maths skills more than college alone can. (Sikora et al, 2019)
Plenty more research on why our children need more books, here.